Researchers may have uncovered a new target for the treatment of the most common form of mesothelioma. In a study published in Genes & Cancer, a team of international researchers report that a factor known for regulating cellular processes such as cell growth and death in many diseases including cancer, called the platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRB), is responsible for driving tumor growth in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).
MPM is a cancer of the protective lining of the lung, known as the pleura, and it is caused by inhaling asbestos. Because this type of cancer is resistant to chemotherapy, researchers are seeking new therapeutic targets to improve its poor prognosis.
Dr. Ombretta Melaiu and colleagues observed that in between 20% to 40% of the MPM specimens they studied, PDGFRB was highly active, or overexpressed. They used a special laboratory technique called RNA interference to silence the gene associated with PDGFRB to notice the resulting effects. In most cases, the MPM cells stopped growing and began to die off.
The researchers then tested the effects of two drugs that inhibit PDGFRB, crenolanib and imatinib, on the MPM cell lines. They observed that crenolanib had similar or even better results than the gene silencing, while imatinib was the least effective.
The study highlights PDGFRB as a target that drives tumor growth in MPM. The researchers said their findings encourage the use of crenolanib to treat patients with MPM.