Mesothelioma treatment researchers in Australia have a big mystery on their hands.
It seems that for one mesothelioma patient in a clinical trial of microRNA delivered by nanocells the asbestos cancer has practically vanished from his body.
The researchers conducting the clinical trial say the degree of improvement experienced by this mesothelioma patient is unheard of.
And that leads to the mystery. The researchers say they haven’t a clue why this has happened.
Possible Mesothelioma Treatment Breakthrough
Other patients in the microRNA-nanocell clinical trial have been helped by the experimental mesothelioma treatment. But none has been helped nearly as well as this one patient.
So until they solve this mystery, the researchers say they aren’t sure whether to soberly keep plugging away with the clinical trial or to open a case of champagne and declare victory.
Because, on the one hand, it might be that the microRNA-nanocell concept is going to prove to be a major breakthrough in the arena of mesothelioma treatment — a real blockbuster, maybe.
On the other hand, it might be that this is a fluke and nothing worth celebrating. Perhaps there’s something about the patient’s DNA makeup in combination with the nanocell-delivered microRNA that is supercharging his immune system to enable this mesothelioma beat-down to occur.
Either way, researchers will need to probe this patient much more deeply to see if his genetic structure holds some sort of key to solving this mesothelioma puzzle.
Early Asbestos Exposure Led to Mesothelioma
The patient’s name is Bradley Selmon. He’s from Australia. Selmon was exposed to asbestos starting at around age 17 when he found work as an apprentice plumber.
One of his first tasks as an apprentice was to cut asbestos-containing wallboard inside houses so that pipes could pass through. Decades later, Selmon was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
During the course of treatment, Selmon learned of a Phase One microRNA-nanocells trial being conducted at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute in New South Wales, Australia.
He decided to try and enroll. He was told he met the selection criteria and then joined nine other mesothelioma patients in receiving the investigatory treatment.
It took only eight weeks before Selmon felt like a new man. He has continued to feel that way ever since, according to a case study published in the journal Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
MicroRNA Is Also a Mesothelioma Biomarker
MicroRNA is a mini-gene that controls protein synthesis within cells. Other researchers see the value of microRNA not as a treatment but as a mesothelioma diagnosis tool, because the gene material serves as a biomarker.
However, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute scientists see the value of microRNA as mainly a mesothelioma therapy.
In the trial they’ve been running, the microRNA is loaded into nanocells which are basically miniaturized delivery vehicles. The nanocells are then injected into each participant’s body, right at the spot where the mesothelioma is.
The microRNA is then naturally taken up by the individual mesothelioma cells. Once inside, the microRNA acts like a monkey wrench tossed into the machinery that runs those mesothelioma cells.
This causes the cells to shut down, collapse and die. That happened for Selmon and the other nine mesothelioma patients.
However, for those other nine, the microRNA did no more than stop the growth of mesothelioma. For several of them, the growth restarted after a time.
Not in Selmon, though. In him, the mesothelioma die-off was so great that the researchers almost couldn’t find any trace of it when they scanned his body.
So far, the mesothelioma hasn’t started growing again. It’s a mystery, for sure.
The researchers indicate they don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up for a cure, and are insisting they are only “cautiously optimistic” about where this mystery will lead.