From the blog

Quinacrine has Anti-Cancer Effects on Mesothelioma Cells

Published: September 4, 2020

Pleural mesothelioma is a devastating cancer of the mesothelium, which is a lining of different organs. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural, which affects the lining of the lungs while the second most common is peritoneal, which surrounds the lining of the abdomen. New treatments are constantly being developed for the cancer, but none have been found to be a successful cure for mesothelioma. A drug that is used to treat malaria and a parasitic diarrhea disease is currently being tested and has been found to have anti-cancer properties. The anti-cancer effects that this drug has could lead to it treating mesothelioma patients.

Quinacrine is a drug with many different uses. In addition to it treating malaria and protozoal infections, it has also been able to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Researchers at Penn State, Texas Tech, Keck Graduate Institute in California, and St John’s University in New York are studying the effects quinacrine has on mesothelioma cells. The researchers reported that quinacrine has significant cytotoxicity against mesothelioma cells that were both lab grown and derived from mesothelioma patients’ cells. It also showed that it is successful in small concentrations.

When researchers looked at the drug quinacrine, they found that when the drug was applied to mesothelioma cells, it prevented them from migrating and creating new colonies of cancer tissue. Researchers are hopeful that it could prevent tumors from being created. The researchers also created a 3D cell culture, which mimics a mesothelioma tumor. When the drug was applied, it was very effective against the cell model. The drug also prevented tumor feeding blood vessels, autophagy (the body removing damaged cells) which allows mesothelioma tumors to thrive, and triggered apoptosis, which is when cells naturally die. With the medication being successful at low levels, it shows that it could be a good treatment for mesothelioma. It could be potentially approved as a stand-alone treatment for the cancer.

Every year, more people are diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos. There are treatments currently approved for mesothelioma, but they are not that successful. If this treatment is approved, it could potentially improve and extend mesothelioma sufferers’ lives.

Nishant S. Kulkarni et al., “Repurposing Quinacrine for Treatment of Malignant Mesothelioma: In-Vitro Therapeutic and Mechanistic Evaluation” International Journal of Molecular Sciences (July 8, 2020). [Link]
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