Patients battling mesothelioma usually try to avoid infections but researchers in Belgium have found that infection may help in the fight against mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma in mice

The laboratory research has been conducted by researchers at a university in Belgium using mice with mesothelioma.

The mice were injected with lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus, an infection that affects mice. It was found that the mesothelioma tumours grew slower in mice with the virus.

Activating cancer-killing immune system

It is thought that the results of the study were due to the virus activating the cancer-killing immune system cells.

Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat and so far, no cure has been found. This is because mesothelial cells produce proteins that make it harder for the immune system to locate them and so the cancer is able to spread.

It is thought that the infection introduced to the mice reactivated the cancer-killing cells in the immune system. Lead researcher, Mohamed Mandour of Universite Catholique de Louvain said; “Acute infection with lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus strongly reduced in vivo early AB1 mesothelioma growth and death resulting from cancer development.”

Further research is needed

Whilst this is a positive step forward for a future treatment of mesothelioma, more research is needed. A virus that has the same effect in humans will need to be identified and, as mesothelioma patients are often in a weakened state by the time they have been diagnosed, the virus would need to leave their healthy cells unharmed.

We look forward to hearing more about this research and hope that a cure for mesothelioma is found in the not too distant future.

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Source:

Mandour, M, et al, “Lactate Dehydrogenase-Elevating Virus Enhances Natural Killer Cell-Mediated Immunosurveillance of Mouse Mesothelioma Development”, May 7, 2020, Infectious Agents and Cancer, https://infectagentscancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13027-020-00288-6

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