Fireflies May Light the Way to Improved Mesothelioma Treatment

Treatment options for mesothelioma have been few in number and low in effectiveness - often limiting and destroying hope for recovery. Too often, the deadly and aggressive form of cancer is diagnosed too late for treatment as it is. However, there may be hope on the horizon for improved mesothelioma treatments due to the results of a recent study.

Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York recently presented a portion of their findings at the 64 th Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium and later published a summary of their findings in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. Their discovery? The enzyme responsible for the bioluminescence of fireflies may be a key in identifying and treating mesothelioma cells.

By isolating the oxidative enzyme luciferase from the firefly, researchers were able to bind the enzyme to the diseased cells causing them to glow. The bioluminescence was measured and found to be detectable in as small as a 10-cell sample. Researchers then subjected the cells to a thermal treatment and re-measured the bioluminescence and number of remaining live cells. The findings indicated that heat-based treatments may be effective in treating mesothelioma.

Tumor Recurrence Reduced

The study's participants took their research further by using the treatment on lab mice induced with mesothelioma. Once the bioluminescent mesothelioma cells were in place, researchers used the glowing cells to guide a heat-based therapy to reduce the tumors. The size of the tumors and the bioluminescence were then measured for three weeks. The end results were dramatic.

In the published summary, the authors of the study observed "in mice, the bioluminescence signal correlated with tumor size post treatment and effectively guided the ablation procedure to completion, achieving 0% tumor recurrence."

With the findings of this study, researchers may have unlocked a new method for guiding therapeutic ablation of mesothelioma. Further, because the disease can be resistant to standard cancer therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation, using heat therapy to reduce the tumors may be an effective alternative in the battle against mesothelioma.

Medical and Legal Counsel

Mesothelioma is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos particles. In years past, asbestos was regularly used in industries such as construction, electrical and automobile manufacturing. When workers breathed or ingested the fine asbestos fibers, the particles would become lodged in soft tissue and organs. Over time, the particles led to the development of diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

In some cases, mesothelioma victims may have the right to pursue and recover financial compensation for their injuries. If a diagnosis of mesothelioma is given, it is important for the victim to not only obtain medical treatment from an experienced physician but also legal advice from a personal injury attorney experienced in handling mesothelioma cases.