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Jun 5, 2005 | Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive cancer found in the lining of the chest, the abdominal cavity, and area around the heart.

It is primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos particles and has a latency period of between 30 and 40 years (some experts put the latency period at up to 50 years). This form of cancer, for which there is currently no cure, is particularly lethal and resistant to all conventional therapies.

A five-year animal (mouse) study by researchers from several countries, however, has found that a vitamin E-related compound known as alpha-TOS may kill mesothelioma cells. The compound also halted the growth of mesothelioma tumors and showed promise with respect to suppressing tumors associated with melanoma and breast, lung, and colon cancer.

Dr. Jiri Neuzil of Griffith University (Gold Coast), who headed the study, hopes to begin human trials within two years. Although Dr. Neuzil is encouraged by the results, he is cautiously optimistic since "in the past many experiments showing promise in mice have completely failed in humans." One very positive finding in this study was that alpha-TOS selectively pursued mesothelioma cells and destroyed them while causing little, if any damage to normal cells.

Although alpha-TOS is already taken orally by many people as a health supplement, it loses its cancer fighting quality when it is converted to vitamin E by the digestive system. Dr. Neuzil made a cynical observation, however, when he stated that the pharmaceutical industry might not take on alpha-TOS as a cancer cure because the compound cannot be patented.

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