Scientists working for drug developer Verastem, Inc. have published a paper in the most recent issue of the Science Translational Medicine journal, which provides hopeful details. The findings of the study are inspiring for cancer patients, particularly those suffering with mesothelioma.

The paper, which is titled, “Merlin Deficiency Predicts FAK Inhibitor Sensitivity: A Synthetic Lethal Relationship,” details the scientists’ findings regarding merlin, a tumor suppressor. The study’s results showed that the loss of merlin increases a patient’s responsiveness to drugs that target cancer stem cells through inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Merlin loss is a common symptom of mesothelioma, with approximately half of the disease’s victims suffering that deficiency.

According to Jonathan Pachter, Ph.D. and head of research at Verastem, “These results build upon key findings published earlier this year, which demonstrated that merlin loss drives the development of highly aggressive malignant mesothelioma. Accordingly, in a merlin-negative mesothelioma patient-derived tumor model, FAK inhibitor treatment as maintenance therapy prolonged the inhibition of tumor growth following treatment with [standard care agents] pemetrexed and cisplatin.”

Mesothelioma is a fatal type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Although asbestos has been banned for wide-spread use for several decades, there are still approximately 3,000 mesothelioma diagnoses made each year. The disease has a lengthy latency period, so many of its victims were exposed to the cancer-causing material prior to the ban.

Source: http://www.mesothelioma.com/news/2014/05/cancer-drug-developer-verastem-publishes-paper-on-study-of-merlin-loss.htm#ixzz34oQZeBda

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