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A preliminary study has shown that a drug for relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis may be able to help those suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The drug, FTY720 or fingolimod, is derived from a fungus known as Iscaria Sinclairii, and it has been used in the treatment of other cancers. However, the most recent study is the first to address its use in treating mesothelioma, notes an article in Specialty Pharmacy Times.

Fingolimod Used to Treat MesotheliomaResults of the study were recently published in the Journal of Translational Medicine. This was a non-human study but, nonetheless, results showed promise.

Specifically, investigators treated a panel of mesothelioma cell lines and normal human mesothelial cells.

The action of fingolimod was assessed by measuring the activity of phosphatase protein 2A (PP2A). Next, they evaluated the activation of apoptosis – cell death, in layman’s terms.

Mouse models of human mesothelioma tumors were treated with fingolimod. The study authors found that the agent “significantly suppressed the viability of mesothelioma cells without impacting normal mesothelial membrane cells”, good news where cancer treatments are concerned as many drugs also impact healthy cells while killing cancer cells.

The results were pleasing to those involved in the study.

“Our preclinical data indicate that FTY720 is a potentially promising therapeutic agent for malignant mesothelioma treatment,” author Agata Szymiczek said in a press release.

The findings are significant, note the study authors, because drug toxicity is often a major challenge for patients with mesothelioma that are being treated with the most popular drugs for the disease, including pemetrexed (Alimta™), a chemotherapeutic agent.

In addition, patients typically do not experience sustained results from standard chemotherapy, the study stresses, and if a patient received enough of those particular agents to permanently destroy the tumors, the adverse events would be lethal.

Studies like this one are ultra-important in the world of mesothelioma treatment. As a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma study does not receive the same amount of dollars as research for more common types of cancer.

The only FDA-approved drug specifically for the treatment of mesothelioma was approved more than a dozen years ago and research has been slow since then.

Though immunotherapy drug trials have shown some success in the treatment of asbestos-caused cancer, there’s a long way to go in addressing mesothelioma, which normally kills within a year of diagnosis.

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