Multiple Sclerosis Drug Shows Promise in Treating Mesothelioma

Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis treatment found to trigger programmed cell death.

A relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) drug shows promise in the treatment of mesothelioma, according to a preliminary study.

FTY720 (fingolimod) is a drug derived from the fungus Iscaria sinclairii. Prior research has shown its positive effects on other forms of cancer, but this is the first study to evaluate fingolimod in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

For the study, published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, investigators treated a panel of mesothelioma cell lines and normal human mesothelial cells. The action of fingolimod was assessed by measuring the activity of phosphatase protein 2A (PP2A). Next, they evaluated the activation of apoptosis.

Mouse models of human mesothelioma tumors were treated with fingolimod. The study authors found that the agent significantly suppressed the viability of mesothelioma cells without impacting normal mesothelial membrane cells.

“Our preclinical data indicate that FTY720 is a potentially promising therapeutic agent for malignant mesothelioma treatment,” author Agata Szymiczek said in a release.

Fingolimod inhibited PP2A activity by displacing a protein that is overexpressed by mesothelioma cells. The findings showed an increased in apoptosis in the laboratory grown mesothelioma cells.

“Moreover, [fingolimod] administration in vivo effectively reduce tumor burden in mice without apparent toxicity,” Szymiczek wrote.

The findings are significant because toxicity is a major challenge for patients with mesothelioma. They typically do not experience sustained results from standard chemotherapy, and if a patient received enough of the agents to permanently destroy the tumors, the adverse events would be lethal, according to the study.

“The fact that FTY720 was able to shrink mesothelioma tumors without toxic [adverse events] in this preclinical study is a hopeful sign, especially given the potential complications associated with other types of mesothelioma treatments,” Alex Strauss, managing editor for Surviving Mesothelioma, said in a release.