In hopes of finding more and better solutions for tackling aggressive pleural mesothelioma, Baylor University’s School of Medicine has announced the beginning of a new mesothelioma clinical trial that will test the efficacy of an investigational drug in the treatment of the disease for those whose cancer has progressed after initial chemotherapy.
According to a press release by the university, this Phase II study involves a drug that binds to the protein mesothelin, which is found on the surface of some cancer cells. The drug then releases chemotherapy to the tumor in order to try to slow or stop the growth of mesothelioma cancer cells.
The trial will test the safety and effectiveness of the drug, specifically in individuals whose cancer has not responded to treatment with standard chemo drugs used to treat mesothelioma, including pemetrexed (Alimta®), currently the only FDA-approved drug specifically recommend for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Study coordinators have high hopes for this drug, which delivers the agent directly to cancer cells but leaves non-mesothelin cells unharmed, which also results in a decrease in side effects.
So far, the drug – known as anetumab ravtansine – has shown some success in treating mesothelioma patients and has also been used with some success to treat women with ovarian cancer. Many Phase 1 participants showed partial responses or their disease stabilized.
The college reports that 210 individuals will be enrolled in this particular study and will receive the drug every 3 weeks until their disease progresses or they develop serious side effects.
Sadly, mesothelioma experts are often presented with frustrating scenarios when treating patients because the disease is generally not detected until it reaches Stage 3 or 4, limiting treatment options.
Yet medical professionals like Dr. David Sugarbaker hold out hope for new treatments and have seen tremendous strides made during the last decade or so.
“The disease is particularly challenging because by the time it’s detected – often 20 to 40 years after exposure to the cancer-causing asbestos – the disease can be very advanced,” notes Sugarbaker, professor of surgery, chief of the division of thoracic surgery and director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and Lung Institute at Baylor. “Currently, available treatment options are limited for patients whose mesothelioma has progressed or does not respond after initial anticancer treatment, so clinical research is highly important in helping advance our understanding of how to treat it.”
The best way for a patient to learn of these clinical trials is through his/her oncologist, who should be receiving information about these studies on a regular basis.
That’s why it’s so important for mesothelioma victims to find the right doctor who stays abreast of all the studies and treatments that can provide a better prognosis for patients with this dreaded form of cancer.
Thankfully, clinical trials are free to the patient, unlike other treatments, which can be quite costly. Often, patients need to seek compensation from those responsible for their disease in order to be able to afford medical bills not covered by their healthcare policies.