How Do I Participate in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial?

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Clinical trials give mesothelioma patients the opportunity to try new treatments, contribute to the scientific community and help scientists work towards a cure for mesothelioma.

Clinical trials are one way that mesothelioma victims can fight back against their diagnosis.

What Is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is an experiment used to confirm whether a specific treatment or lifestyle change will have a positive impact on a patient.

In some cases, clinical trials will be used as an information gathering process, to help scientists understand how a disease works or develop better methods for diagnosing a specific condition. Others will actively seek cures.

Mesothelioma clinical trials often focus on new pharmaceutical drugs, biological markers and early cancer detection.

For example, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is currently recruiting for an upcoming trial that will study 2 immunotherapy drugs, Durvalumab and Tremelimumab, to see whether this treatment will help mesothelioma patients fight the disease:

  • Durvalumab blocks a protein that cancer cells create to help evade immune cells.
  • Tremelimumab blocks an immune cell receptor that suppresses the immune system’s attack response.

Clinical trials happen all over the world, often out of world-class cancer hospitals. Some clinical trials occur in multiple locations throughout the country, while other trials are performed out of a single location and therefore require patients to be local.

Clinical Trial Phases

Clinical trials are broken down into 4 phases. New pharmaceuticals released to the public have to go through all four phases of the trial. In some cases, Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials may be combined.

  • Phase 1: A small trial typically conducted on 20-80 healthy people to determine any potential side effects of the treatment, while also assessing the correct dosages.
  • Phase 2: A larger trial that includes 100-300 people. The objective of a Phase 2 trial is to confirm that a drug or therapy can effectively treat an illness or condition, and these trials may span the course of several years.
  • Phase 3: After confirming that a drug or therapy has promise, a Phase 3 trial will continue to study the treatment. This phase attempts to refine info on dosages, reactions with other drugs, and demographic influences. A Phase 3 trial may include a few hundred to 3,000 individuals and is the final test before the FDA approves a drug, device, or treatment.
  • Phase 4: Once a new therapy has been released to the market, a Phase 4 trial is used to monitor the drug’s efficacy when used by the larger population. Phase 4 trials can detect concerns that didn’t come up in the experimental phases of the trial.

Who Conducts Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are conducted by medical scientists. These scientists may be financially funded by pharmaceutical companies, educational institutions including universities and hospitals, charitable nonprofit organizations or even for-profit organizations.

For example, the Mayo Clinic has an upcoming mesothelioma clinical trial that will test a cryotherapy spray developed by a private company called CSA Medical, Inc.

Prior to a pleuroscopy, Mayo surgeons will apply the cryospray directly to the tissue with mesothelioma cells to see whether freezing, combined with traditional surgery, improves outcomes for mesothelioma patients.

In many cases, private pharmaceutical companies fund academic research, in hopes of owning the therapy once proven. Within this mutually beneficial relationship, scientists pursue potential cures and new treatments to help people, while the pharmaceutical companies stand to make a substantial profit from successful treatments.

This is a fairly typical relationship, as medical experiments are extraordinarily expensive and private companies are willing to pay for the research required to make scientific breakthroughs.

How Can Clinical Trials Benefit Mesothelioma Patients?

Many people picture clinical trials as the opportunity to try groundbreaking cures first, but this isn’t always the case. Some clinical trials aren’t trying to find cures at all, while others require patients to opt out of alternative treatment options.

It’s important to understand the limitations of a mesothelioma clinical trial before you agree to participate in one. That said, there are many benefits to participating in mesothelioma clinical trials:

  • Access to treatments that may not yet be available
  • Contribute towards a cure for mesothelioma
  • Better understand the disease and how it impacts the body
  • Close care and advice from experts in the field

Which Patients Are Suitable for Mesothelioma Clinical Trials?

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked to determine if a mesothelioma patient is suitable for a clinical trial. It’s important for mesothelioma patients to fully understand a clinical trial before volunteering their participation and understand that many trials fail to meet their objective.

If you’re a patient considering a mesothelioma clinical trial, here are a few of the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What are the objectives of the clinical trial?
  • Do I meet all the eligibility requirements?
  • Do I have a social support system?
  • Will I be able to cope emotionally if the clinical trial fails?
  • What will I do if my condition worsens during the trial?
  • What other medical options do I have?
  • If I’m honest with myself, why do I want to participate?

If you have any questions or you feel uncertain about one of your answers, talk to your doctor. She or he can help you determine whether a mesothelioma clinical trial is in your best interest.

How Do I Get Connected to a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial?

Mesothelioma patients who participate in these trials should be emotionally and mentally healthy, with a strong support network.

If you want to participate in a clinical trial, tell your doctor. He or she will help confirm your eligibility and can also help you find new trials as well. Doctors may also submit your participation request.

Your doctor can help provide an objective, unbiased opinion on each of the trials and act as a second opinion throughout the clinical trial process. Alternatively, patients can often submit their own application by directly contacting the research institution performing the trial.

For more information on participating in a clinical trial, contact our Justice Support Team today. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request a FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to better understand your therapy options.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 29, 2019

View 6 Sources
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  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Intrapleural Cryotherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02464904?cond=Mesothelioma&cntry=US&rank=8 Accessed on June 12, 2018.
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  4. Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation, “Clinical Trials.” Retrieved from http://www.cmfonline.org/?q=node/66 Accessed on June 12, 2018.
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