Ken Adler, a professor of cell biology at North Carolina State University developed a compound similar to a protein called a peptide. The peptide was developed to stop inflammation from spreading in patients suffering from lung problems such as chronic bronchitis or asthma. Adler, and long-time friend Reen Wu of the University of California-Davis, have now teamed up to see if this new peptide would stop cancer cells from spreading. Using this peptide, the spread of lung cancer or metastasis in mice was stopped. According to an article published in the News & Observer, Wu tested the peptide on human cancer cells last fall and remarked “Wow. We’ve never seen anything like this. It stops them from moving completely.” The peptide inactivates actin, the main cable inside cells, which directs cell movement. According to Wu, “Inactivating actin prevents it from anchoring to the cell wall and keeps cells from moving.”
Mesothelioma and lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos are some of the most difficult cancers to treat. These cancers are aggressive and quickly metastasize leaving limited treatment options. The development of a peptide that stops the movement of cancer cells have the mesothelioma community anxious to see if the same results will occur outside of the lab. If so, “This could be a breakthrough type of treatment” commented Adler. Given that the researchers were able to stop cancer cells in their tracks and prevent further growth in mice, they concluded that these results “suggest a potential use of these peptides in the treatment of lung cancer metastasis.” Researchers agree that understanding how to stop metastasis is critical for increasing survival in mesothelioma patients. Ongoing research such as Adler and Wu’s continues to give hope that the progression of lung cancer and mesothelioma will be slowed or stopped all together.