Researchers from Flinders Medical Centre in Australia are attempting to find a cure for mesothelioma by using human cells to turn the cancer against itself. Research shows that blocking growth factors and membrane proteins can slow cancer down, but no one has tried these two tactics jointly. By blocking both growth proteins and membrane proteins, the tumor will not acquire the nutrients from the blood stream that it needs to grow. It will also not have the chance to turn healthy cells into cancerous ones, stopping the metastasis to other organs.

Dr Sonja and a team member

Dr. Sonja Klebe and Team Member

Sonja Klebe, an associate professor at Flinders University, is leading this new research. Klebe says that this new treatment will also help in prognosis. The higher levels of growth factors that the patient has, the more aggressive the cancer will be By decreasing these growth factors, patients will be able to prolong their lives. This gives them more time to fight the mesothelioma and hopefully reach remission. In the study, researchers are taking human cells that are extracted during a thoracentesis to test the blockade treatment on both membrane and growth factor proteins at the same time.

A thoracentesis is a minimally invasive surgery that empties the lungs of fluid that builds up during pleural mesothelioma. This fluid may cause a patient discomfort due to labored breathing. Researchers are taking the infected human cells and adding membrane and growth factor proteins to them. They then put these cells back into the body and hope that they will re-infect the cancerous cells with the proteins in order to slow the malignant cells down.

The hopeful benefits of this research would be an eventual cure for mesothelioma, or a different treatment option that is less aggressive than other surgery options, such as an extrapleural pneumonectomy. Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgeries have shown increased levels of remission among pleural mesothelioma patients, however, the surgery removes an entire lung, part of the pericardium lining and diaphragm in order to remove the mesothelioma. This research would hopefully also eradicate the mesothelioma from spreading to other parts of the body and causing the onset of different cancers, such as lung cancer.Picture of medical vial

This research builds on previous research that has already been shown to work, increasing its chances in an actual treatment. This research is being done in Australia, which has the highest numbers of mesothelioma cases in the world. Although there is a ban on asbestos related products, the number of mesothelioma cases is expected to increase by 2020. The importance of this research also comes into play around the world. In America alone there are 2,000 to 3,000 cases diagnosed per year.

These new tactics in research would not only help in treatment and hopeful remission, but also in prognostic markers. Prognostic markers would led more information to the patient about how their life will be affected by mesothelioma and the different ways they can deal with it, as well as other treatment options that would be available in relation to these protein blockade efforts. Learn more about emerging treatments on our Mesothelioma Cure page.

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About the Writer, Erin Higgins

Erin Higgins is blog and content writer for She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Sociology and English Literature.