From the blog

Researchers Could Target Neuron Cells to Fight Mesothelioma

Published: October 29, 2021

Researchers have potentially found a new way to treat cancer by targeting nerve cells.  Researchers at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, conducted the study that is now published in the Science Advances journal. The research targets neurons, which promote tumor growth. The researchers assumed that once tumor nerve cells were targeted with a damaging drug, a tumor’s growth could be stunted. The research was done on mice with triple negative breast cancer tumors. The cancer was slowed but not completely stopped. This research, while currently not being done on mesothelioma, could be beneficial to fighting the horrible cancer with no cure.

The scientists at Technion created lipid nanoparticles with a non-opioid analgesic called bupivacaine to deliver the treatment. The treatment was delivered to breast cancer cells in mice. The entire goal was to slow the nerve and cancer communication that leads to cancer growth. The bupivacaine slows the growth and signaling in cancer cells, which makes them much weaker. The researchers found that the cells that were specifically targeted easily absorbed the drug, slowing the growth of cancer cells by half versus untreated tumors. This is a new way of treating and killing cancer cells. This could be combined with other treatments to effectively fight mesothelioma and other cancers.

New treatments need to be developed for mesothelioma because it is a very aggressive cancer without a cure. Many people die within a year of diagnosis because they are diagnosed late, and the cancer has spread before surgery can be effective. This novel approach of targeting neurons could be very effective for mesothelioma. Currently, a patient’s best option is surgery with chemotherapy, but when the cancer has already spread, chemotherapy is some people’s only option.

Immunotherapy is another option to treat mesothelioma. This option utilizes the immune system to fight cancer cells. There is a problem with chemotherapy and immunotherapy– they are administered to the entire body, which can cause bad side effects in patients undergoing treatment. If this nerve treatment goes further, there is a chance that patients could have their lives extended without having serious side effects and a diminished quality of life like with chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Without mesothelioma research, the length of mesothelioma patient survival would not be as long as it is today, and many innocent victims of asbestos exposure would have much shorter lives. Hopefully more treatments become available so a cure can be found for mesothelioma.

Maya Kaduri et al., “Targeting neurons in the tumor microenvironment with bupivacaine nanoparticles reduces breast cancer progression and metastases” ScienceAdvances (October 6, 2021). [Link]
Nathan Jeffay, “Israeli scientists halve growth of cancer tumors in mice, using ‘GPS particles’” The Times of Israel (October 22, 2021). [Link]
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