New treatment options may be on the horizon for mesothelioma patients. Making history, an international team of scientists reports halting the growth of tumors in mice by inhibiting the very enzymes that fuel their growth.

New Mesothelioma Treatment Testing in Mice

For the first time, American and Israeli scientists have collaborated to stop the growth of mesothelioma in model animals successfully.

Up until the study—published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI)—no effective treatment for mesothelioma has been found. The malignant form of cancer is commonly resistant to many anti-cancer drugs, often leaving those diagnosed with few options and a dim prognosis.

But a new breakthrough in mesothelioma cancer research may increase survival rates.

The motivation for the study began in 2004 when the heparanase enzyme was identified as a treatment target by a team of researchers led by Professor Israel Vlodavsky, co-investigator and professor at the Rappaport Institute at the Technion.

In short, the study revealed a few important findings in the world of mesothelioma research:

  • Mesothelioma cells use an enzyme known as heparanase to break tissue barriers surrounding a developing tumor.
  • This destruction attracts blood vessels to nourish the tumor, accelerating the development of the tumor.
  • Mesothelioma patients with greater amounts of these enzymes tend to have a shorter life expectancy.

Given these findings, the researchers succeeded in disrupting this cycle in mouse model experiments using heparanase inhibitors PG545 and defibrotide.

These inhibitors significantly repressed tumor growth and extended the survival of treated mice—even more effectively than conventional chemotherapy that is currently used to treat mesothelioma.

Lead by researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and NYU Langone in New York, the study’s results could mean promising and potentially life-changing options for those battling the malignant disease.

According to Vlodavsky, the international partnership aims to advance knowledge of mesothelioma and, as a result, lead to lifesaving treatment options for patients.

Vlodavsky stated in an NYU Langone news release:

This joint effort provides an opportunity to make important strides in both our fundamental understanding of mesothelioma and in translating this knowledge into therapeutics. Our collaboration represents the first attempt to focus on heparanase as a major risk factor in mesothelioma and a valid target for the development of heparanase-inhibiting drugs.

New Hope for Thousands of Mesothelioma Patients

The study offers hope to victims of mesothelioma, a malignant form of cancer that develops decades after long-term exposure to asbestos. While most victims of mesothelioma are retired veterans or blue-collar workers, anyone who shared a household with these men are at risk for mesothelioma through secondary exposure to asbestos fibers.

Patients with mesothelioma commonly experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest or ribs
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Bloating or nausea
  • A persistent cough

Thanks to the new mesothelioma research, patients may be able to look forward to new treatment options in the future.

Mesothelioma Research Is Ongoing

The mesothelioma research team has plans to conduct clinical trials to further evaluate the effectiveness of the inhibitors in fighting mesothelioma.

The research was supported by the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation. The collaborative team of American and Israeli scientists represents the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and NYU Langone Health.

Mesothelioma researchers included:

  • Professor Israel Vlodavsky, New York University
  • Professor Harvey Pass, New York University
  • Dr. Uri Barash
  • Dr. Moshe Lapidot
  • Dr. Neta Ilan

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are treatment options that can help improve prognosis. To learn more about mesothelioma research, treatments and clinical trials, contact our Patient Advocates today at (800) 584-4151. Or sign up to receive a FREE Mesothelioma Help Guide to learn more about your full line of treatment options.

View Author and Sources

  1. Israel 21c, “Cure may be on the horizon for mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 3, 2018.
  2. News Wise, “Israeli and American Researchers Have Successfully Curbed Mesothelioma in Model Animals.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 3, 2018.
  3. NYU Langone, “Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone & the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Officially Launch Global Cancer Research Initiative.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 5, 2018.

Last modified: September 1, 2018