Recently published Stanford mesothelioma research explores the potential role of certain types of nucleic acids in turning healthy human pleural cells into pleural cells with mesothelioma. The research from Stanford University School of Medicine was published in the journal Chest, The Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians.
RNA or ribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger, carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins, although in some viruses and cancers, RNA rather than DNA may carry the genetic information. And like an evil double agent, once inside the cell, it can trigger problems. That’s why it may be a possible target for new therapeutic approaches to mesothelioma. And why the Stanford research team decided to study certain types of RNA in detail.
The researchers, led by Yue Xu, PhD, a senior research scientist with the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, start their research paper by stating, “There is no effective cure for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), which results in 3,000 deaths per year in the United States. Despite aggressive treatment regimens, the median survival time remains between 4 and 18 months. Worldwide, developing nations are increasing their asbestos imports and consumption. Thus, the incidence of MPM continues to rise and is likely to peak within the next 15 years in the Western hemisphere, whereas cases worldwide are predicted to rise for another 40 years. These data highlight the need for a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms contributing to mesothelioma and development of innovative therapies.
Unfortunately, the molecular mechanisms controlling the malignant transformation of mesothelial cells, the originating cell type of this tumor, remain poorly defined.”
Mesothelioma Circle’s sponsors at Kazan Law agree with the researchers. That’s why the firm’s charitable foundation decided to help fund this important Stanford mesothelioma research. The foundation’s support, which was used to purchase equipment needed for the research, is acknowledged in the published report.
Working with cells obtained from volunteer mesothelioma patients and comparing those cells with cells from people without mesothelioma, the researchers were able to discover that only the mesothelioma cells were low in a certain kind of precursor to RNA called miR-1. Adding miR-1 to the mesothelioma cells seemed to put the brakes on the rogue RNA and stop the tumor process, they conclude but add that more research is needed to confirm their exploratory work.
 CHEST 2013; 144(5):1632–1643