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A new mesothelioma drug starves cancer cells

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can be a devastating diagnosis. It is a cancer that begins in the lining of the organs and can eventually spread to other parts of the body. Oftentimes, mesothelioma does not respond well to traditional treatment options, like surgery or chemotherapy. Mesothelioma often takes decades to develop after someone’s environmental exposure to asbestos. However, after diagnosis, the cancer may progress relatively rapidly. Mesothelioma has a dismal five-year survival rate and has no known cure.

Thankfully, medical researchers have invested a lot of effort into exploring means of effectively combating mesothelioma. Clinical trials of a new drug show real promise in helping to extend the life expectancy of those struggling with mesothelioma.

What did researchers develop?

A new drug, called pegarginminase, has proven to be quite promising for treating mesothelioma during a relatively long-term study in the United States, the United Kingdom and three other countries. Researchers administered the drug to patients with mesothelioma and also followed a control group that received a placebo drug. Both groups also received conventional chemotherapy treatments.

The patients who received pegarginminase were four times as likely to still be alive three years into treatment as opposed to those in the control group. The drug works by starving cancer cells of arginine. Arginine is an amino acid, but it is not one of the four essential amino acids. Researchers consider it a semi-essential amino acid. It plays an important role in the creation of protein and cellular growth.

By starving cancer cells of arginine, researchers hoped to impair their function. Although human cells can typically generate their own arginine, mesothelioma cancer cells usually cannot. They are therefore weaker and spread more slowly when affected by pegarginminase. Researchers have begun looking into whether the drug may work for other aggressive types of cancer.

There is still additional study required before the medication could be made available to patients not involved in a study. However, every advance in mesothelioma research brings those fighting this deadly form of cancer one step closer to their goal of survival.

Accessing cutting-edge medications often requires a significant financial investment. Pursuing a mesothelioma-related lawsuit against a business that previously exposed someone to asbestos might help those fighting this type of cancer afford the treatment that they require.