Researchers from MIT and Duke may have found a way to make chemotherapy treatments more effective. Chemotherapy is usually the first treatment that is used in people diagnosed with cancer. It can be helpful, but cancers can have different responses and resistances to it. This new research can help make chemotherapy more potent when treating patients, potentially making mesothelioma and other cancers more treatable.
A new compound (JH-RE-06) was discovered that helps block cancer cells from being repaired. Cancer cells are able to perform translesion synthesis (TSL), which repairs DNA and allows the cells to resist chemotherapy. A new DNA repair pathway is used by the cancer cells, allowing the cancer cells to evade the chemotherapy treatment and remain intact.
The compound was tested in mice that were given human melanoma cancer cells. The mice were treated with cisplatin as well as JH-RE-06. The mice that were also treated with the compound had their tumors shrink more compared to the mice just being treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. This shows the treatment is very promising and could potentially work with other cancers.
When cancer cells try to repair themselves, they are not as accurate as normal and healthy cells. Cancer cells use a specific enzyme called polymerase, which allows the cells to become more resistant to treatment. The cancer then becomes much stronger and more advanced, making it harder to treat. If chemotherapy does not end up curing someone, it can make the person much worse.
The next step is for the new compound to be tested in people using clinical trials. If it is successful alongside chemotherapy in people, it could potentially be used in mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma can be very resistant to chemotherapy and can have a poor prognosis, so any new treatments would be very helpful for those suffering from it. Mesothelioma is also incurable and the life expectancy after being diagnosed is not very long. Using this specific treatment could help those suffering live longer and better lives.
Jessica L. Wojtaszek et al. , “A Small Molecule Targeting Mutagenic Translesion Synthesis Improves Chemotherapy” Cell (June 6, 2019). [Link]