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Karmanos Researchers Identify Pathway for Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

DETROIT, April 17,2007 /PRNewswire/ -- The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute today announced significant scientific findings that could lead to better treatment and therapies for cancer patients suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Karmanos scientists presented their research at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Los Angeles, CA.

"We are getting closer and closer to making an impact on this insidious disease," said Anil Wali, Ph.D., an associate professor with Karmanos who led a group of cross-collaborative researchers in studying the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic (UPP) pathway regulatory proteins.

Their study demonstrated that protein ubiquitination and degradation are critical players in the spread of mesothelioma. After studying 241 genes involved in the UPP pathway, Wali's group determined 33 genes were differentially expressed among epithelioid and biphasic histotypes.

"We have already reported earlier detection biomarkers that can be utilized in assessing the high risk groups of patients," Dr. Wali said. "Now, if we can develop a therapy to target this pathway, we will be one step closer to halting this disease."

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive, asbestos-related thoracic cancer affecting about 3,000 new patients in the United States annually. Despite advances in cancer treatment, the average survival rate remains low and the majority of patients die within two years of diagnosis. Currently there is no cure.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute has a long history of mesothelioma education and treatment. In 2004, the Institute joined with Wayne State University's Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine to create the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos Related Cancers.

It addresses the need for early diagnosis and aggressive treatment for those afflicted with asbestos-related diseases. John C. Ruckdeschel, M.D., president and chief executive officer of KCI, co-directs the center in conjunction with Michael R. Harbut, M.D., M.P.H., F.C.C.P., an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of environmental and workplace diseases. Dr. Ruckdeschel, an internationally recognized figure in both lung cancer research and treatment, contributed to the research and authorship of today's presentation.


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