Mesothelioma Patients Gain Significant Survival Using Chemotherapy Drug Combo

In the world of mesothelioma research and in the life of a mesothelioma victim, the gain of even a month can be momentous. Mesothelioma is a cruel disease that claims the lives of those who have been diagnosed with it swiftly – often in less than a year.

When scientists identify a protocol that can add an average of seven months to mesothelioma patient survival, it’s a big deal – and that is exactly what a recent study has found.  According to results published in the American Journal of Cancer Research, a combination of two existing cancer drugs has been found to cut mesothelioma tumor cell growth in half in laboratory animals.

The two drugs are crizotinib and afatinib. Both have previously been approved in the treatment of a variety of cancer types, and each has previously been used in those diagnosed with the aggressive asbestos-related disease.

Yet, this new study took a novel approach to the use of the drugs. It first identified two different and distinct proteins that are frequently found in the cells of those with malignant pleural mesothelioma: cellular-mesenchymal to epithelial transition factor (MET) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

They they examined tissue samples from 24 patients who had died of malignant pleural mesothelioma, as well as control subjects, and analyzed them for the presence of MET, EGFR, both, or none.

While the controls had none of the protein present, mesothelioma patients had either of the proteins present, and sometimes had both – and those who only had one of them lived much longer than those who had both.  They also  found that if they eliminated both MET and EGFR, patients experienced even longer periods without their tumors growing.

Armed with this knowledge, the researchers were able to use crizotinib, which targets MET, and afatinib, which targets EGFR to treat cancer cells in mice. What they found was that using just one of the drugs had little impact, but when they used both together, the tumor growth was cut in half.

“Our results indicated that treatment with a combination of crizotinib and afatinib  showed stronger inhibition on cell proliferation in MPM cells than treatment by either drug alone.  This represents a promising therapeutic strategy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Significant strides are being made in the treatment of mesothelioma every single day, and the Patient Advocates at make sure that they are aware of them and can refer those affected to the facilities that offer the most innovative treatments. We are here to answer your questions and concerns from matters financial to medical. Call us today at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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