A new finding by researchers at the University of Colorado may prove to be cause for hope in the effort to successfully treat mesothelioma. The team of researchers from the U.S. and abroad found that a particular protein (Hand2) that is active in embryos appears to be reactivated in those who have mesothelioma tumors.
This protein binds to genes in the very early stages of life, helping embryos grow their mesothelium. The mesothelium is a protective membrane that covers many internal organs, including the lungs.
The study’s lead author noted that in many of the mesothelioma tumors they studied, “the Hand2 protein has been turned back on, possibly altering the cells of the tumor.” These tumors can appear years and even decades after a person was exposed to asbestos.
The study was done using zebrafish. This fish is often used to study cell formation because they’re translucent, so it’s easy to see cells develop. Like humans, they have mesothelium around vital organs.
What’s next in the research?
The researchers are now studying what causes this reactivation and why the protein is found in mesothelioma tumors and not in other types of cancerous tumors. Once they discover that, they may be able to find a way to manipulate it to successfully treat the disease.
While mesothelioma is currently a devastating diagnosis to receive, studies like this one are bringing us closer to a time when it can be successfully treated. If you or a loved one is dealing with mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos, make sure that you have access to the compensation you need and deserve.