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Drug Derived from Chinese Herb Inhibits Mesothelioma Growth, Study Says

A group of cancer researchers in Hawaii has recently completed a study that says a drug derived from a Chinese herb triggers cell death in mesothelioma tumors. Known as FTY720, the drug is extracted from the fungal metabolite Iscaria sinclarii. Although it is FDA approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, FTY720 “has recently raised attention for its anti-tumor activity in a variety of cancers,” says the study.

The research team evaluated cell viability and anchorage–independent growth in a panel of malignant mesothelioma (MM) cell lines and human mesothelial cells (HM) upon FTY720 treatment to assess in vitro anti-tumor ability. “Signaling and activation of programmed cell death were evaluated by a technique for analyzing or identifying proteins in a mixture called “immunoblotting” and a technology employed in cell counting, cell sorting, biomarker detection and protein engineering called “flow cytometry.” A syngeneic mouse model was used to evaluate anti-tumor efficacy and toxicity profile of FTY720 in vivo.

The researchers found that FTY720 “significantly suppressed MM cell viability and anchorage–independent growth without affecting normal HM cells.” The drug “promoted AKT dephosphorylation and Bcl-2 degradation,” which led to induction of programmed cell death. Moreover, tumor burden was effectively reduced without apparent toxicity.

In conclusion, “our preclinical data indicate that FTY720 is a potentially promising therapeutic agent for MM treatment,” said the team.



"FTY720 (CAS 162359-56-0)." Cayman Chemical. Cayman Chemical, 2017. Web. 27 June 2017.

Szymiczek, Agata, Sandra Pastorino, David Larson, Mika Tanji, Laura Pellegrini, Jiaming Xue, Shuangjing Li, Carlotta Giorgi, Paolo Pinton, Yasutaka Takinishi, Harvey I. Pass, Hideki Furuya, Giovanni Gaudino, Andrea Napolitano, Michele Carbone, and Haining Yang. "FTY720 Inhibits Mesothelioma Growth in Vitro and in a Syngeneic Mouse Model." Journal of Translational Medicine. BioMed Central, 15 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 June 2017.