Recently, researchers in China revealed that they may have discovered a way to prolong the lives of mesothelioma victims using dihydroartemisinin (DHA), an antimalarial drug.
Aside from both starting with the letter M, malaria and mesothelioma aren’t usually considered similar. Malaria is a severe infection that is caused when a protozoan parasite is transmitted into a person’s system through a mosquito bite. Malaria can lead to severe fevers, headaches, vomiting, anemia, hypoglycemia, coma, mental disability and death.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure. While mesothelioma can take decades to surface, once it does, it is aggressive and often proves fatal. Therefore, this begs the question, how exactly is a malaria drug helping mesothelioma victims live longer?
Could a Malaria Drug Hold the Key to Extending the Lives of Mesothelioma Victims?
The research study that led to the discovery of DHA’s possible ability to help slow down the spread of mesothelioma took place at Tongji University in Shanghai. According to the results of the scientists’ research, when DHA is mixed with Onconase, which is a leopard frog embryo enzyme, it slowed the growth of malignant mesothelioma.
Scientists used two methods to test the ability of the combination of DHA and Onconase to combat mesothelioma. The first method involved in vitro, which is where the testing is limited to using the drug combo on mesothelioma in test tubes. The other testing method was in vivo, which involves using the drugs on mesothelioma in a living organism. In this case, the scientists used the DHA and Onconase treatment on mice after introducing cancer cells to the rodents’ systems. Reportedly, the tumors in the mice treated with Onconase and DHA were significantly smaller than the tumors of mice treated with just DHA or Onconase.
While the study resulted in no adverse side effects, the scientists still do not fully understand why the combination of DHA and Onconase is able to slow the growth of mesothelioma tumors. Therefore, much more research will need to be done before this can be considered a safe treatment option for mesothelioma victims.
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