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FDA Approves Genetics-Based Cancer Treatment That May Be Used in Mesothelioma Patients

A first-of-its-kind cancer drug has just been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with many types of cancer, including malignant mesothelioma. The drug is manufactured by Bayer and is called larotrectinib, though it is sold under the brand name Vitrakvi. It is a genetics-based treatment that is provided based on the presence of a specific genetic biomarker in a patient’s cancer rather than on the type of cancer itself. 

New Drug Targets Genetic Biomarker Instead of Specific Cancer

The genetic mutation that larotrectinib targets is called TRK gene fusion, which has been found in malignant mesothelioma as well as many other types of cancer. When clinical trials were conducted on larotrectinib, three out of four patients diagnosed with a TRK fusion cancer responded positively, and 73 percent of those with positive responses were able to sustain the response for a minimum of six months.  Even more encouraging than this “remarkable” result was the fact that 22 percent of the patients had a complete response, stopping their cancer’s advancement entirely.

Cancer Researchers Optimistic About Drug

Though the TRK gene fusion is found in mesothelioma patients, it is also found in numerous others, and this is what is generating such excitement throughout the world of cancer treatment. Speaking of the potential for the drug’s use, David Hyman, MD, chief of the Early Drug Development Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said, “We now have the first therapy approved for this genomic alteration, regardless of cancer type.” Laratrectinib is the first genetics-based cancer treatment to be approved by the FDA. It was also granted Orphan Drug status, which means that it has been provided certain incentives offered only for drugs used to treat extremely rare conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S., as is the case with malignant mesothelioma.

Because the drug has received FDA approval, mesothelioma patients whose disease is positive for the TRK gene fusion can be treated using the drug. For information on this and other remarkable breakthrough treatments, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at  1-800-692-8608.


Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an experienced blog writer, editor, and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of expertise include health, medical research, and law.

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