Studies using a mouse model and cells from patients with pleural mesothelioma found that an investigational agent appears to slow tumor growth in cancer cells from mesothelioma tumors lacking a tumor suppressor protein called merlin (Shapiro IM et al. Sci Transl Med. 2014;6:237ra68).
Expression of merlin expression is often lost in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), an asbestos-induced aggressive cancer with limited treatment options. This protein is found at cell-cell boundaries, where it plays a role in the maturation of junctions that form attachments between cells. The agent, VS-4718, inhibits focal adhesion kinase (FAK), weakening cells’ adhesion to the extracellular matrix that provides crucial support to the cancer cells.
Hampton T. Investigational Drug May Fight Asbestos-Related Cancer. JAMA. 2014;312(1):19. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.7647