Japanese researchers believe they have found a powerful new compound to fight the aggressive cancer –malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo have had success using a novel therapeutic compound called JBIR-23 in mice. JBIR-23 is a natural compound first derived from the bacteria Streptomyces sp. AK-AB27 in 2008. In laboratory test tube studies, its unique chemical structure appears to have a cytotoxic effect on mesothelioma cells and promote apoptosis (cell death).
When the compound was tested on mice with mesothelioma, the effect was the same. JBIR-23 appears to prevent the further growth of the tumor, without loss of weight or other observable side effects.
The news is promising in light off the fact that mesothelioma is considered an aggressive cancer that is difficult to cure with conventional therapies. Mesothelioma is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos, a mineral used in construction, insulation and thousands of other products. When inhaled, microscopic fibers of the mineral can trigger a chain of physiological events that can lead to cancer decades later.
Although a number of compounds are being studied for their potential for fight mesothelioma, JBIR-23 is encouraging because, as the Japanese researchers write, “JBIR-23 not only prevents tumor growth but also leads to a reduction in the volume of tumors.” In a report in a recent issue of Cancer Letters, the team concludes, “These results suggest the JBIR-23 is a promising lead compound for use in MPM-specific therapeutic drugs without any side effects.”
In the U.S., mesothelioma affects approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people every year and its incidence is still on the rise, due to the long latency of the disease. Early, accurate diagnosis is crucial to initiating treatment in time to slow the tumor’s growth. Currently, first line treatments for mesothelioma include cisplatin-based chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiotherapy.
Hwang, JH et al “Induction of tubulin polymerization and apoptosis in malignant mesothelioma cells by a new compound JBIR-23”, Nov 3 2010, Cancer Letters. Epub ahead of print.
Dobbs, Adrian. “Investigating the synthesis and anti-cancer (mesothelioma) activity of JBIR-23”, Research document. School of Biological & Chemical Sciences, University of London.