Health Discoveries in Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma linked to genetic pathways

April 29, 2011
A University of Maryland researcher is attempting to develop a therapy that blocks genes known to stimulate the growth of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Dr. Sheelu Varghese, who won a grant from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) to pursue her research project, is investigating the effect of the P13K and mTOR genetic pathways that impact cellular functions such as growth, cell division and survival.

Varghese's preliminary studies at the university's Greenbaum Cancer Center show that these specific genes are present in peritoneal mesothelioma tumor samples and are linked to aggressive tumor development, which reduces the survival of patients with this rare form of cancer.

Inhibiting the genes' pathway could change that, Varghese contends. Coupled with other ongoing cancer research, positive findings in her research "can move quickly into the clinic," she said.

In the past decade, MARF has awarded about $7 million in research grants to find new treatments and a cure for mesothelioma. Up to $100,000 for a two-year grant is awarded to each of several research projects annually.

The Cancer Institute within the North Shore-LIJ Health System has a multidisciplinary team of medical specialists who treat mesothelioma, both locally and systemically, with radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.
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