The development of lung cancer treatment have come a long way within the last decade. The progression of gene therapy through clinical trials is contributing to millions of lives extended as well as more patients going into remission. The success gene therapy is playing towards these common cancers are making waves in the rare space as well. An uncommon cancer affecting the lungs- mesothelioma, will hopefully start to leverage these types of treatments in the near future.
Statistics show that nearly 155,000 lives are lost to lung cancer yearly in the United States alone. Causing every 1 in 4 deaths, lung cancer kills more patients than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. Being the second most common cancer, and accounting for the highest mortality annually, lung cancer is something scientists and researchers are passionately working on to find a cure.
During the winter of 2018, a research group at the Gene Editing Institute in Newark Delaware proved through the use of the CRISPR gene-editing technique, that lung cancer could still be treated even after cells proved to resist chemotherapy treatment. With genetic lung cancers and lifestyle lung cancers already utilizing this gene therapy, patients with rare lung cancers like malignant mesothelioma can now benefit from this research. CRISPR would mean a better prognosis for those with mesothelioma who, due to the cancer’s long latency period, are diagnosed during late stages of the disease and tend to experience limited treatment options. After a treatment or clinical trial has been tested on non-small-lung cancer patients and begins to see success, doctors will then expand their patient pool to include patients with similarly acting conditions.
Mesothelioma cancer is not specific to the lungs; however, the most common type, pleural mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers and over time develops in the lung cavity. This type of cancer accounts for nearly 90 percent of all mesothelioma cases. CRISPR allows for tumor genes to be modified and changed, which is showing promise at the forefront of a patient’s diagnosis. During the conducted study, when patients were no longer receptive to receiving chemotherapy, scientists took a batch of the resistant, malignant cells and turned off the NRF2 gene. NRF2 gene is a chemotherapy-resistant lung cancer cell that is also referred to as a knockout cell. After these cells become genetically modified, they undergo cisplatin treatment, a popular form of chemotherapy in both non-small-cell lung cancer and mesothelioma (and other small-cell lung cancer) patients.
Another gene known to become defective in the body of a cancer patient is the p53 gene. Many cancers, including pleural mesothelioma, often see this cell fall short of its duties to regulate and function as a healthy cell. When this happens, the gene pathway becomes immune apoptotic cell death; however, currently doctors are in the testing trials of an adenovirus vector process that will hopefully have the ability to revive the p53 gene essentially giving them the ability to shrink tumors. If this treatment process proves successful, patients diagnosed in late stages of the disease, who traditionally have a limited number of treatment options could have another possible avenue to remission.
The study concluded that, “It is now possible to precisely knock out genes from any eukaryote or prokaryote with unprecedented specificity and efficiency” says one of the researchers in the report mentioned above. CRISPR researchers are confident that the results in their studies will allow them to take the next steps in FDA approval. New treatments for lung cancer, such as NovoTTF-100L are being approved for mesothelioma, which reinforces new hope for the future.More information via mesothelioma.com »