In medical terms, “exceptional responders” are patients diagnosed with unresponsive diseases such as malignant mesothelioma who have exceptional responses. These patients are interesting because therapies that haven’t worked in most patients have worked on them. Now Australia has created its first multi-tumor “exceptional responder” program to determine what sets “exceptional responders” with a variety of diseases apart. Mesothelioma researchers around the world will be looking closely at this study, in large part because so many Australians have been diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer.
Exceptional Responder Programs Exist In Many Countries
This is Australia’s first program of its type, and there are others looking at exceptional responders to mesothelioma and other diseases in the United Kingdom, France, Canada and the United States. The Australian program is being administered by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst.
The program already has signed on 76 patients and hopes to eventually have a total of 200. It sets itself apart because the largest percentage of patients in the group were diagnosed with mesothelioma. So far, those recruited include 14 patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, 10 with colorectal cancer, 10 with non-small cell lung cancer, and 8 with glioblastoma multiforme.
Program is Unique For High Number of Mesothelioma Patients
Speaking of the contributions that the Australian program will make, S. Percy Ivy, MD, associate chief of the investigational drug branch at the National Cancer Institute and principal investigator of the NCI’s Exceptional Responder Initiative program said, “They’ll be able to find some very unique insights from these patients,” in part because of the number of patients with mesothelioma who will be enrolled.
Australia has the unfortunate distinction of having a very high rate of mesothelioma in its population. The fact that numerous patients diagnosed with the illness are included in this study gives the scientists involved a remarkable opportunity to determine what gives these patients such a remarkable survival ability. The study also hopes to look at patients who, conversely, had particularly poor responses, a phenomenon called disease hyperprogression. These patients are notably difficult to study because they succumb to their disease so quickly.
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