Drug Improves Efficacy of Chemotherapy Treatment

Treatment // August 13, 2020
According to a new study, a drug may improve the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.

Treatment efficacy is incredibly important for improving patient survival. Mesothelioma researchers are searching for ways to increase treatment efficacy and safety.

In a study recently published in Cell, researchers found a new drug increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment. Study results suggest the new drug may turn chemotherapy into a longer-term solution for mesothelioma patients.

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Medication May Prevent Patient Resistance to Chemotherapy

Researchers recently studied chemotherapy drug resistance. Chemotherapy is a common treatment option for mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments typically work by damaging the DNA of cancer cells. This damage helps stop or slow cancer cell growth and division.

One of the most common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma patients is cisplatin.

Through repeated use of this type of chemotherapy drug, cancer cells may mutate and use alternative DNA repair pathways. This process leads to chemotherapy resistance.

Cancer cell DNA repair is also referred to as translesion synthesis (TLS). Translesion synthesis may enable the mesothelioma cancer cells to survive chemotherapy treatment. The survival of the cancer cells makes the treatment less effective.

Researchers have found combining a TLS-blocking compound with cisplatin improves treatment efficacy.

“[The TLS inhibitor] can potentially address the issue of cancer relapse, where cancers continue to evolve from new mutations and together pose a major challenge in cancer treatment.”

Nimrat Chatterjee, Study Co-Author

Currently, the researchers are testing TLS inhibitors with cells in petri dishes and in live animals. The cancer cells used in live animals are human cancer cells. Once proven successful, clinical trials with human patients will take place.

How Do TLS Inhibitors With Chemotherapy Work?

TLS inhibitors give chemotherapy treatments the “boost” they need by inhibiting cancer cell replication. In other words, TLS inhibitors help chemotherapy by keeping cancer cells from dividing.

Healthy cells are able to repair DNA damage and replicate normally. Cancer cells cannot use the regular pathways and instead use TLS DNA polymerases. These DNA polymerases are less accurate, leading to mutations. The mutated cancer cells can be resistant to future chemotherapy treatments.

TLS Inhibitors and Chemotherapy: Defining Terms
  • TLS: Translesion synthesis, which is the irregular replicating pathway used by cancer cells.
  • Polymerases: Enzymes that make copies of DNA.
  • Cisplatin: Chemotherapy drug used to treat mesothelioma and other cancers.
  • Mutagenesis: A mutation, which is the process that changes the genetic information of an organism (in this case, cell).

Using a TLS inhibitor prevents the cancer cells from replicating in this way. Without TLS cell replication, there is less chance of cell mutation and chemoresistance.

Benefits of Using TLS Inhibitors With Chemotherapy

Research surrounding the TLS inhibitors and chemotherapy is still new. More research is needed to fully understand the application of TLS inhibitors. However, there are clear benefits to using the compound.

Adding the drug to chemotherapy treatment can result in:

  • more cancer cell death
  • more tumor shrinkage
  • less damage to healthy cells

Study co-author Michael Hemann, associate professor of biology at MIT, stresses their goal is to enhance the power of cisplatin to hopefully cure patients.

“It’s very well established that with these frontline chemotherapies that we use, if they don’t cure you, they make you worse,” said Hemann. “We’re trying to make the therapy work better, and we also want to make the tumor recurrently sensitive to therapy upon repeated doses.”

Researchers Continue to Test Efficacy of the Combination Therapy

TLS inhibitors and chemotherapy is a promising development in cancer treatment. However, without human trials, the therapy may not soon be widely available.

Patients interested in TLS inhibitors, or other emerging therapy options, should discuss availability with their mesothelioma doctors.