Mesothelioma cell growth may be slowed by drug already approved by FDA to treat alcoholism

26 Apr 2014 by under Research/Treatment

cancer stem cell 100x100 Mesothelioma cell growth may be slowed by drug already approved by FDA to treat alcoholismResearchers from Wayne State University School of Medicine in , Mich., have discovered a drug already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcoholism may play an important role in halting the growth of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer linked to exposure, which most often affects the lining of the lungs (pleural) or the abdomen (peritoneal).

The study examined the effects of disulfiram (DSF) on MPM tumors in mice. DSF is bound with copper as DSF-Cu and sold under the brand name Antabuse for the treatment of alcoholism. Research indicates this copper-complexed DSF also works to suppress cell growth and metastasis promoting genes in MPM cells. The report states in vivo studies revealed the drug’s potential as an anti-MPM agent.

The report, titled Disulfiram Suppresses Growth of the Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Cells in Part by Inducing Apoptosis, was published April 1, 2014 by the journal PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication that welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline. Lead co-authors are Vino T. Cheriyan and Ying Wang.

A key part of the study involves the ability of DSF-Cu to induce apoptosis, a process that is key in programmed cell death. Apoptosis allows the body to eliminate damaged or unneeded cells without local inflammation from cell leakage. Apoptosis malfunction is a signal of cancer development and tumor-cell survival.

MPM is highly resistant to conventional cancer therapies and treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Median survival rate of MPM is between nine and 17 months.

Researchers became interested in DSF as a treatment for mesothelioma after previous studies revealed the drug is effective at potentiating the effects of some anticancer drugs. Additionally, they noted that when combined with copper, DSF can inhibit growth and induce stress in some cancer cell types.

As part of their study, scientists implanted mesothelioma tumors in mice and tested the effects of DSF-Cu on those tumors. They also studied MPM tumors in a lab setting, in culture. The cells were treated with different concentrations of DSF-Cu for various time periods. Results in five human MPM cell lines indicated DSF-Cu “inhibited cell proliferation in all tested cell lines.” Researchers concluded “the data would suggest for potential utility of this agent to target a diverse histotypes of MPM tumors.”

Additionally, researchers noted cell growth inhibition by DSF-Cu stimulated apoptosis including the fragmented DNA. Researchers say DSF-Cu suppression of MPM cell growth involves activation of novel apoptosis signaling pathways.


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