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    ABSTRACT: The incidence of human malignant pleural mesothelioma (hMPM) is still increasing worldwide. hMPM prognosis is poor even if the median survival time has been slightly improved after the introduction of the up-to-date chemotherapy. Nevertheless, large phase II/III trials support the combination of platinum derivatives and pemetrexed or raltitrexed, as preferred first-line schedule. Better understanding of the molecular machinery of hMPM will lead to the design and synthesis of novel compounds targeted against pathways identified as crucial for hMPM cell proliferation and spreading. Among them, several receptors tyrosine kinase show altered activity in subsets of hMPM. This observation suggests that these kinases might represent novel therapeutic targets in this chemotherapy-resistant disease. Over these foundations, several promising studies are ongoing at preclinical level and novel molecules are currently under evaluation as well. Yet, established tumour cell lines, used for decades to investigate the efficacy of anticancer agents, although still the main source of drug efficacy studies, after long-term cultures tend to biologically diverge from the original tumour, limiting the predictive potential of in vivo efficacy. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a subpopulation of malignant cells capable of self-renewal and multilineage differentiation, are believed to play an essential role in cancer initiation, growth, metastasization and relapse, being responsible of chemo- and radiotherapy refractoriness. According to the current carcinogenesis theory, CSCs represent the tumour-initiating cell (TIC) fraction, the only clonogenic subpopulation able to originate a tumour mass. Consequently, the recently described isolation of TICs from hMPM, the proposed main pharmacological target for novel antitumoural drugs, may contribute to better dissect the biology and multidrug resistance pathways controlling hMPM growth.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 01/2012; 166(2):532-53. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01873.x · 4.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes is involved in the development of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). ZIC1, a potential tumor suppressor gene involved in regulating cell growth and apoptosis, was investigated in MPM cell lines and tumors. ZIC1 expression and promoter methylation were evaluated in MPM cell lines and tumor samples by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Combined Bisulfite Restriction Analysis, and methylation-specific PCR. ZIC1 was reexpressed in cell lines and functional effects were assessed. miRNA expression was quantified by microarray and reverse transcription quantitative PCR. ZIC1 knockdown and miRNA inhibitors were used to study the relationship between ZIC1 and miRNA expression and confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation PCR. ZIC1 expression was low in MPM cells, and was correlated with ZIC1 promoter methylation and reversed upon decitabine treatment. ZIC1 reexpression inhibited proliferation and invasion in MPM cells whereas knockdown enhanced the growth of MeT-5A. In MPM tumor samples ZIC1 expression was either low or undetectable, with promoter methylation observed in 16 of 24 cases. The overexpression of miR-23a and miR-27a was reduced by ZIC1 reexpression, with inhibitors of miR-23a or miR-27a reducing colony formation. miR-23a overexpression was also associated with shorter survival of MPM patients. ZIC1 is down-regulated in MPM through promoter methylation and acts as a tumor suppressor through down-regulation of its direct targets miR-23a and miR-27a.
    Journal of thoracic oncology: official publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 10/2013; 8(10):1317-28. DOI:10.1097/JTO.0b013e3182a0840a · 5.80 Impact Factor