Disrupting autophagy found to improve chemosensitivity

15 Nov 2017 by under Research/Treatment

598px Chemotherapy vials 3 100x100 Disrupting autophagy found to improve chemosensitivityMesothelioma treatment often involves using drug pemetrexed, but as many as 60 percent of patients see no improvement. Researchers may have found a way to improve the effects of chemo though, according to Surviving Mesothelioma.

Typically, mesothelioma treatment involves a multimodal approach that involves radiation, surgery or immunotherapy in addition to chemotherapy because chemo alone rarely works. Mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, can affect the lining of the heart, abdomen, or most commonly, the lungs. It usually takes decades after initial exposure to develop, but proves deadly within the first 18 months of diagnosis.

By inhibiting autophagy, the breakdown of cells to recycle their components into new ones, researchers believe they can improve the chemosensitivity of mesothelioma cells. A new study by the University of California and Harvard Medical School found inhibiting autophagy in its early stages increased the chemosensitivity of mesothelioma cells. “Our results highlight a potential role of autophagy initiation in supporting mesothelioma cells during chemotherapy,” the study states.

However, autophagy must be interrupted in its early stages to have any effect. When researchers used a different drug to inhibit autophagy in its later stages, no change in chemosensitivity occurred. This led researchers to conclude the drugs themselves were not toxic to the cancer cells but instead could be valuable in improving treatment effectiveness in hopes of extended survival times for mesothelioma patients. The results of this study seem to support the results of previous studies into compounds that can be used to disrupt autophagy.

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