Perth scientists found that mice treated with a commercial skin cancer cream were cured of their advanced mesothelioma tumors. This study on mice could prove to be the first step in finding a cure for this deadly form of cancer in humans.
The Perth scientists are especially excited about finding a cure for this since it could save the more than 700 Australians’ lives and many thousands more around the world who die from mesothelioma annually. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the linings of various organs of the body, most often the lungs. The only known cause is exposure to asbestos in the decades preceding the diagnosis. This cancer is one of the deadliest, ending the sufferer’s life within a year of being found to have the disease. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, as chemotherapy treatments used with other cancers do not seem to have an effect on mesothelioma tumors.
The study involved studying a combination therapy on its effect on advanced mesothelioma tumors in mice. While examining the skin cancer cream Aldara, the doctors in Perth combined it with a stimulant drug, anti-CD40. This combination therapy was injected directly into mesothelioma tumors in mice. When the doctors found that half of the mice had been cured of their advanced mesothelioma, they were stunned. Such positive results from the study were unexpected, and this pleasant surprise could be used to benefit humans with mesothelioma in the near future. Aldara is a commercially available cream to be applied topically to basal cell carcinomas, and the stimulant anti-CD40 is in the clinical testing phase. Since the safety of these two drugs has already been extensively examined, the timetable for the combination will likely be shortened. The potential for application of these findings could lead to human treatment regimes in three to five years’ time.