A protein called WT1 seems to contribute to the survival and chemoresistance of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) cells, according to new research.
This finding was recently published in Pathology & Oncology Research in a study titled “Turning Back The Wheel: Inducing Mesenchymal To Epithelial Transition Via Wilms Tumor 1 Knockdown In Human Mesothelioma Cell Lines To Influence Proliferation, Invasiveness, And Chemotaxis.”
Although MPM is one of the rarest forms of cancer, its incidence is increasing. This disease is associated with asbestos and is frequently treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. However, pleural mesothelioma is often resistant to treatment, leading to a very poor prognosis.
The WT1 protein works by regulating the production of other proteins, thereby contributing to the development and survival of cells. Previous studies have found that this protein is present at increased levels in MPM cells, but its exact role in the development of mesothelioma was unknown.
“WT1 is highly expressed in MPM and we therefore investigated the role of WT1 in MPM concerning the most clinical relevant features of MPM like chemoresistance, proliferation and invasion,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers used molecular tools to inhibit the expression of WT1 in cultures of human MPM cells that have increased levels of this protein. They found that WT1 inhibition suppressed resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs, such as Platinol (cisplatin). Cell proliferation and invasiveness were also reduced when the expression of WT1 was shut down.
Overall, inhibition of WT1 reduced the aggressiveness of mesothelioma cells, suggesting that therapies targeting this protein may become promising options for MPM patients, particularly for those who are resistant to chemotherapy.
Further studies are warranted to confirm these results and provide information on the exact mechanism by which WT1 protects MPM cells from chemotherapy.
“WT1 plays a key role in several features with relation to MPM treatment,” the researchers concluded. “WT1 may be an interesting target in this malignancy, which withstands most oncological treatment. New drugs are urgently needed to develop new treatment strategies in the fight against MPM.”