Mesothelioma patients who have higher levels of mesothelin have better survival rates. This is the finding of a new study out of Australia.
Mesothelin is a type of protein found in mesothelioma cancer cells. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. It is caused by exposure to a toxic mineral called asbestos.
Typically, mesothelioma requires aggressive treatments to stop the cancer from growing and spreading. Such treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination.
Scientists aren’t sure what mesothelin does in cancer cells. But since mesothelin is only found in cancer cells, it could be a target for therapy that leaves healthy cells unharmed. Doctors could test for mesothelin in mesothelioma patients to design personalized treatments for the most effectiveness.
The researchers in this study wanted to find out if measuring the amount of mesothelin in mesothelioma tumors could predict a patient’s response to treatment.
Clinical Decision Making
To get their data, the researchers looked at tumor samples from 75 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
They found that 66% of epithelioid mesothelioma had mesothelin present in more than 5% of tumor samples. The epithelioid cell type of mesothelioma is the most common cell type. It also has the best prognosis.
They also found that mesothelin was more strongly present in some tumors than others. Of the tumor samples with mesothelin, 70% had moderate or strong levels of the protein.
The researchers also wanted to see if mesothelin levels could predict how well patients would do after treatment. They found that patients with higher levels of mesothelin had better survival rates.
This study suggests that testing for MSLN may be helpful in deciding which treatments might work best for some patients with mesothelioma.
Chu GJ, Linton A, Kao S, et al. High mesothelin expression by immunohistochemistry predicts improved survival in pleural mesothelioma [published online ahead of print, 2023 Apr 11]. Histopathology. 2023;10.1111/his.14916. doi:10.1111/his.14916. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/his.14916