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Researchers at NYU Langone Stop Growth of Mesothelioma in Vivo

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have succeeded in stopping the growth of mesothelioma in vivo by inhibiting the heparanase enzyme (HPSE). The international team, led by Dr. Harvey I. Pass, Director of the Thoracic Surgery Division at NYU Langone, and leading heparanase enzyme expert Israel Vlodavsky of Technion Integrated Cancer Center (TICC), analyzed mesothelioma samples collected by Pass over the years, then validated the clinical significance of heparanase in the pathogenesis of mesothelioma.

According to an American Technion Society (ATS) release, the team found that “mesothelioma cancer cells use the heparanase enzyme to break tissue barriers surrounding the developing tumor and attract blood vessels to nourish it.”

“Moreover, the dissolution of the extracellular matrix causes the release of growth-promoting proteins and thus accelerates the development of the tumor. The heparanase secreted by cancer cells and the microenvironment of the tumor triggers a vicious” cycle “in which inflammation and growth strengthen each other.”

The joint research group (Technion-NYU Langone) succeeded in disrupting this cycle by combating mesothelioma with heparanase inhibitors. The ATS reports that “the study showed, first, that heparanase accelerates the progression of the disease in mesothelioma patients: the greater the amount of heparanase in the patient, the shorter their life expectancy.” In mouse model experiments, the study also showed that “inhibiting heparanase gene expression inhibits tumor growth.”

“The heparanase inhibitors (PG545 and defibrotide) significantly inhibited tumor growth and greatly extended the survival ability of treated mice,” reports the ATS.  Even more amazing is the use of heparanase inhibitors was more effective than conventional chemotherapy such as Cisplatin,” which is currently used to treat mesothelioma.

The success of this study provides “hope for mesothelioma patients around the world” reports the ATS. The joint research team has plans to conduct a clinical trial soon to assess the therapeutic potential of heparanase inhibitors in mesothelioma.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma and it can take decades to develop. Fortunately, thanks to advances in medicine, doctors have access to special diagnostic tools such as blood, tissue and imaging tests, which can be used to assess your risk of developing the disease long before symptoms appear. Once symptoms have developed, the disease has already reached its later stages. This makes it much more difficult to treat.

Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection often leads to better treatment options and outcomes. See your doctor to assess your risk today.



Hattori, Kevin. "Israeli and American Researchers Have Successfully Curbed Mesothelioma in Model Animals." ATS. American Technion Society (ATS), 23 May 2018. Web. 20 June 2018.

"Mesothelioma: Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatments." WebMD. WebMD LLC, 2018. Web. 20 June 2018.

"Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 20 June 2018.