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Researchers are Studying the Mesothelioma Tumor Microenvironment

Published: February 11, 2022

A new study is showing how the tumor microenvironment helps mesothelioma progress and survive in the body. Mesothelioma tumors create a complex microenvironment surrounding themselves. The microenvironment is simply the area surrounding the tumors. The new study shows that the microenvironment that mesothelioma tumors create assists cancer initiation and progression. Scientists are trying to figure out how the microenvironment works and how cancer cells communicate with regular cells.

The cells that scientists are studying are non-cancerous immune and stromal cells and cancerous tumor and cancer stem cells. Scientists believe that these cells are the main cells involved in mesothelioma progression. If the researchers find how these cells interact with each other, they could potentially find ways to stop the cell communication and treat mesothelioma in new ways. Patients could then live longer and better lives.

Cancer cell growth in the tumor microenvironment depends on the activity of cancer cells and the cells that surround them. Immune and stromal cells, which connect the mesothelial tissue to other tissues and organs, are the main cells that are being studied because they aid tumor growth. Researchers at the University of Siena believe the connection between tumor cells and stromal and immune cells creates the perfect environment for cancer growth, immune escape, and invasiveness. When the cells communicate with each other, cancer cells are able to escape the defense mechanisms created by the immune system. Mesothelioma tumors typically have fewer immune cells and more stromal cells connected directly to the tumor.

The tumor microenvironment has historically been difficult to understand. It aids in the progression of mesothelioma and scientists that study the microenvironment also have to know and understand the immune landscape. It is still not completely known what the importance of certain cells are, but there could be answers from the tumor microenvironment. If scientists know how cancer cells talk to non-cancer cells, they can create better, more targeted therapies for specific types of cancer. New therapies for mesothelioma could take the tumor microenvironment into account, stopping poor survival in mesothelioma patients.

Mesothelioma is a tough cancer to treat because it creates a harsh environment for immune system cells, and it is a very aggressive cancer. This combination has made if hard for doctors and researchers to find a good treatment for the disease. If researchers can find out how mesothelioma interacts with different treatments, they could create a treatment potent enough to kill mesothelioma cells without being affected by the tumor microenvironment.

Francesca Cersosimo et al., “Mesothelioma Malignancy and the Microenvironment: Molecular Mechanisms” Cancers (November 12, 2021). [Link]
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