Medical oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York have just completed a phase 2 clinical trial that has delivered promising results for many patients with malignant mesothelioma. Researchers at the esteemed medical facility found that a drug called tazemetostat delivers significant disease control for the more than 50% of pleural mesothelioma patients whose cancer cells contain the BAP1 mutation.
Drug Uses Targeted Therapy to Control Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive, fatal form of cancer that is extremely difficult to treat. One of the reasons that it is so challenging is that its cells contain very few genetic anomalies that can be targeted with state-of-the-art therapies. One exception to that rule is the BAP1 mutation, which is found in more than 50% of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
The study, which was published in the journal Lancet Oncology, tested the use of tazemetostat on 74 patients whose mesothelioma had tested positive for the BAP1 mutation and whose disease had progressed after first-line chemotherapy treatment. Though previous study results had led the researchers to expect disease control in 35% of patients after 12 weeks, the actual results delivered tumor control in 51% of patients, far better than anticipated.
Researcher Says Tazemetostat Delivered “Real Effect” on Slowing or Stopping Mesothelioma
In an interview published on the Memorial Sloan Kettering website, medical oncologist Dr. Marjorie Zauderer said, “This is the first targeted therapy we’ve seen to have a real effect on slowing or stopping pleural mesothelioma. Although targeted therapies have been successful with many other cancers, one problem with mesothelioma has been that there aren’t many alterations we can target. Now that is changing.”
Dr. Zauderer explained that the study was able to be conducted extremely quickly because of MSK’s comprehensive approach to profiling tumors. “After we found out how common BAP1 was in mesothelioma, I took action to make sure every mesothelioma case at MSK was tested for the mutation. That way, when a drug like tazemetostat becomes available for testing, we have already identified who may benefit. All this testing — genetic, molecular, and other types of profiling — yields information that can prove useful if a new treatment pops up.”
Every day, researchers get closer to finding effective treatment for malignant mesothelioma. If you need access to facilities offering state-of-the-art treatment, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.FREE Mesothelioma Packet