Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. When diagnosed, patients can sometimes be given just a few months to live. Doctors and researchers are continuing to find treatment options to help cure, extend, or at least make patients’ lives better. Some researchers are looking at biomarkers, which can help show doctors what diseases a person has and the different properties of a specific disease.
A protein biomarker that shows reduced survival in mesothelioma patients has been found. The protein, CD70, is part of the tumor necrosis factor family of proteins. When mesothelioma patients express more of this protein biomarker, they typically have more aggressive, faster growing tumors that resist treatment. Patients with other cancers who have the same biomarker have also been found to have more aggressive tumors. The researchers have linked this protein to mesothelioma survival for the first time through this study.
Proteins are the instruction givers of cells. All cells are told to grow, divide, and die by proteins. One of the proteins that does this is CD70, and can be found alongside another protein, CD27, helping to regulate the immune response to cancer. Typically, the immune system fights cancer automatically, but when proteins are off balance, this does not necessarily happen.
The researchers at the Aichi Medical University School of Medicine in Nagakute, Japan alongside researchers from Germany, Poland, and the US National Cancer Institute researched CD70 and its many effects. When measuring protein expression in mesothelioma patients, they found that 20 percent of the cells in the 172 patients overexpressed CD70. The patients who overexpressed this protein also had a decreased survival rate. This was also tested in mice, and mice with higher levels of CD70 had more invasive mesothelioma. This is different from the other protein CD27, which when found in higher levels, showed better results for patients.
This research is promising, and could potentially help patients receive treatment faster. This could also help create more immunotherapy treatments that are more targeted, which would help patients’ survival.