Mesothelioma researchers are all-too aware that the disease they’re investigating is extremely resistant to treatment. They have to measure victories in small increments, and being able to offer patients even a few more months of life has significant value. So it is no wonder that attendees at this year’s European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress being held in Barcelona were so heartened by news delivered by the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK): The non-profit revealed that its Phase II trial of their new drug lurbinectedin had provided significant progression free survival for mesothelioma patients when used as a second or third line palliative treatment.
Extending progression-free survival is the goal
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer for which very few treatment protocols have proven to be effective. In many cases patients are treated with the first-line chemotherapy treatment, only to find that their disease and symptoms eventually return. As indicated in the presentation at ESMO, there is currently no standard second-line treatment for mesothelioma that has proven effective, and that is what SAKK hopes lurbinectedin will provide.
According to Dr. Metaxas, the coordinating investigator of the Phase II trial, 42 patients with progressive malignant pleural mesothelioma were given the drug with a goal of achieving 12 weeks of Progression Free Survival. The researcher said that they achieved this goal in 52.4% of patients.
Scientists express optimism for new chemotherapy drug
The chemotherapy drugs that are traditionally used after first-line treatments have failed are vinorelbine and gemcitabine. Neither have proven particularly effective, and have given mesothelioma patients median progression-free survival times of less than three months, and median overall survival time of less than nine months. Speaking of the results seen in the lurbinectedin study, Dr. Metaxas said, “These results demonstrate that lurbinectedin might be active in progressive MPM and seems to work independently of histology or after prior treatment with immunotherapy. Both patients with a slow or fast disease progression on prior first-line platinum-pemetrexed chemotherapy could benefit from this treatment.”
Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma who need more information on the treatments that have proven most successful can speak with the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net by calling 1-800-692-8608.