From the blog

Reducing UHRF1 Could Lengthen Mesothelioma Sufferers’ Lives

Published: October 30, 2020

The protein UHRF1 could help people survive pleural mesothelioma. Research from the National Cancer Institute found this protein. The protein is encoded by the gene with the same name. Researchers in the study believe that it could cause the growth and spread of mesothelioma. The information needs to be confirmed with a larger study but if the researchers are correct, doctors could extend pleural mesothelioma sufferers’ lives.

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium surrounding the pleura, which is the lining that surrounds people’s lungs. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer with a typical survival being 18 months. Once exposed to asbestos it can take decades for the fibers to cause cells to mutate and cause cancer. Once someone ends up with mesothelioma though, the cancer can spread fast and be very aggressive. If doctors figure out why the cancer is so aggressive, they could potentially slow its growth and slow its spread.

The UHRF1 protein is an epigenetic driver in human cancer, which means it causes gene expression without having any genetic influence. The researchers wanted to find out whether UHRF1 has an impact on the survival of mesothelioma sufferers like it does with other cancers. If they find that it does, researchers will have to find how to regulate the protein.

When looking at the protein UHRF1, it was analyzed in normal mesothelial cells, asbestos exposed mesothelial cells, lap grown pleural mesothelioma cell lines, normal pleural membrane cells, and cells from pleural mesothelioma patients. The researchers found that UHRF1 was expressed higher in pleural mesothelioma lines. Normal mesothelioma cells also had higher levels of UHRF1 after being exposed to asbestos. It was also notable that patients who had higher levels of UHRF1 had a shorter survival once diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

To reduce UHRF1 expression, a type of chemotherapy called mithramycin was administered to lab grown cells and mice infected with pleural mesothelioma. Drugs that raised the tumor suppression protein p53 were also found to reduce UHRf1. The researchers were able to conclude that UHRF1 helps the growth of mesothelioma and reducing it could help improve the survival of those struggling with pleural mesothelioma.

Emily S. Reardon M.D. et al. “UHRF1 Is a Novel Druggable Epigenetic Target in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” Journal of Thoracic Oncology (September 11, 2020). [Link]
Susan Moench PhD “UHRF1 May Be an Actionable Target in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” Cancer Therapy Advisor (October 8, 2020). [Link]
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