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Interferon-β plus chemotherapy against mesothelioma and some research suggestions

ChemotherapyMain Point:

Researchers have found, for the first time that the combination of Interferon-β (IFN-β) and cisplatin or pemetrexed, which are used for the treatment of mesothelioma, enhances the therapeutic effects.

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Study Further:

Micrograph showing benign mesothelial cells (Credit: Wikipedia)
Micrograph showing benign mesothelial cells (Credit: Wikipedia)


Mesothelioma, also known as malignant mesothelioma, is the tumor of mesothelium, i.e. the lining of lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. It usually begins in the lungs but can start in other organs.

Malignant mesothelioma is usually caused by inhaling asbestos particles and is a rare but serious type of cancer.

Interferon-β (IFN-β):

Interferons are the type of proteins produced in the body in response to viral infections. They also have anti-tumor effects by the mechanism of increasing cell death and strengthening immune system. There are three types of interferons, i.e. type I, II and III.

IFN-β is a type I IFN. It gives immune response and most commonly used for multiple sclerosis, i.e. a disease of nervous system resulting in muscle weakness, poor eyesight, slow speech and some inability to move.


Cisplatin is a chemical, i.e. medicine (chemotherapy), given for the treatment of a number of cancers such as lung, stomach, oesophagus cancer etc. It is given in the form of drip (infusion).


Pemetrexed is also a chemotherapy given for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pleural mesothelioma.


In the present study, researchers have showed that IFN- β produces more biological activities than IFN-α. Regarding mechanism, they have found that type I IFNs stimulated the p53 pathways in mesothelioma cells.

Researchers have found that the combination of IFN- β with cisplatin or pemetrexed, which are the first-line chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of mesothelioma, has synergistic anti-tumor effect on mesothelioma. Synergistic effect refers to the effect that is greater than the sum of the individual effects of the two chemical agents or drugs. You can say that synergistic effect is 1+1=3.

Research Suggestions:

You can work on type III IFNs, IFN-λs. They have not been clinically tested for malignance and the mechanisms of type III IFNs-mediated apoptosis need further studies.

Precise mechanism of apoptosis caused by type I IFNs need further studies. According to suggestions, type I IFNs up-regulated expression of p53 gene resulting in anti-tumor effects.

Researchers have noted that “biomarkers to detect the growth inhibition are thereby required in the case of a possible clinical application with type III IFNs in future.” You can also study on such biomarkers.

You can also work on the mechanism behind the greater potential of IFN- β as compared to IFN-α. It is not clear. Possible reasons are differences in binding affinity of these interferons to type I IFN receptors and greater stability of IFN- β, but these are just hypotheses.

Researchers have also reported that the mechanisms behind the activation of extrinsic pathways in mesothelioma need further studies.

Combination of gene medicines with chemotherapy can also be checked in mesothelioma patients.


Mesothelioma – Medline Plus

Interferon βDavidson College


Pemetrexed – Macmillan

Quanhai Li, Kiyoko Kawamura, Shan Yang, Shinya Okamoto, Hiroshi Kobayashi,et al. (2013). Interferon-β Produces Synergistic Combinatory Anti-Tumor Effects with Cisplatin or Pemetrexed on Mesothelioma Cells PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072709

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."

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