Malignant mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, has proven remarkably difficult to treat. It is resistant to the traditional cancer protocols that have worked in other forms of cancer, leaving most patients with a much-reduced quality of life and a survival time of less than two years.
In response to these challenges, scientists are attempting to treat the disease with a number of innovative new approaches, and one of the most exciting of these is epigenetic therapy.
Epigenetic has been compared to the software that packages DNA within our cells, and epigenetic therapies try to change the DNA within cancerous cells in order to stop them from reproducing and convert to healthy cells.
Epizyme is one of the companies working on epigenetic therapies for mesothelioma, and their researchers have just announced promising results from a phase 2 study of their mesothelioma protocol. The group found that half of patients using their therapy experienced disease control for at least 12 weeks, and 26% maintained disease control for up to 24 weeks.
The mesothelioma medication that Epizyme has created is called tazemetostat. It is taken orally twice a day, and patients who have used it have had minimal adverse effects.
“Today’s findings show that tazemetostat monotherapy substantially delayed disease progression without significant toxicities, which is clinically meaningful. This is encouraging for the patients and families impacted by mesothelioma, and for the oncologists who treat them,” Marjorie G. Zauderer, MD said
The study involved a total of 74 patients who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, with half of those studied being watched for safety of the product, regardless of their genetic sequencing status.
The other half were specifically evaluated in terms of the drugs’ ability to provide disease control, and only patients with a specific genetic sequence were included in that group. The drug was found to be well tolerated as well as effective.
As new strides are made in mesothelioma treatment, patients and their families are able to move forward with longer survival times and enjoy greater quality of life. For information on resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.