Researchers continue to be confounded by the ability of mesothelioma cells to outfox even the most toxic of anti-cancer treatments. Regardless of the therapy used, the cancer almost always recurs locally. Now, researchers focusing on the P2X7 receptor, that allows cancer cells to communicate, may have found a new target for treating mesothelioma.
Tumors use a complex communication mechanism, known as pathways, to promote their survival. Whereas apoptosis, the natural process whereby damaged cells naturally die, should keep illness at bay, a defect in this process can lead to uncontrolled mesothelioma growth. The P2X7 (P2RX7 or P2X7R) purinergic receptor, or signaling pathway, has been gaining attention due to its involvement in cancer cell death or proliferation.
Researchers from University of Ferrara, Italy have also turned their mesothelioma research focus to the proteins. They found that the P2X7R protein was overexpressed in three different mesothelioma lines derived from previously diagnosed mesothelioma patients. But, they found that the protein was not present in mesothelial cells from healthy patients.
The researchers introduced selective P2X7R inhibitors to the mesothelioma cells and were able to halt the growth of the mesothelioma cells. They then tested the inhibitors on mice with mesothelioma tumors by implanting them under the skin and in the peritoneal cavity. Once again, the treatment resulted in a reduction of tumor growth.
“Our findings suggest that the P2X7R might be a novel target for the therapy of mesothelioma,” concluded the researchers.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. Currently, there is no cure for the cancer although patient survival and quality of life can be improved through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. For patients receiving targeted care, their treatment protocol is often driven by the presence of the cancer’s unique biomarkers.
Read the full study in the July 6 edition of Oncotarget.