Mesothelioma Drug Trials Show Promise, Disappointment

Researchers around the world continue to work to find drug treatments that will be effective for patients suffering from malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the cells that line the lungs, heart, and abdomen, is currently incurable in the majority of cases.
Alfacell Corporation recently announced that a clinical trial for Onconase in mesothelioma patients was mostly unsuccessful. Onconase was being tested to determine if it produced an overall survival rate improvement when administered with doxorubicin, versus patients treated only with doxorubicin. Unfortunately no substantial positive effect was found; median survival time for patients receiving Onconase and doxorubicin was 11.1 months, while survival time for patients receiving doxorubicin alone was 10.7 months.

However, Alfacell did report that there was a significant improvement in survival when Onconase was administered to patients with one previously unsuccessful chemotherapy regimen, with mean survival time going from 8.7 months to 10.7 months with Onconase. Alfacell will submit a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for this use of Onconase. MolMed SpA will be presenting results of two clinical trials it is conducting of its drug Arenegyr. One trial is studying the effect of Arenegyr on patients who have undergone chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma, and another is studying the drugs effects on pre-treated patients with colorectal cancer. Preliminary findings of the trials indicate that Arenegyr has strong positive effects for both conditions and a favorable toxicity profile.

The mesothelioma trial was conducted at multiple treatment centers, with Arenegyr being administered as a second-line treatment for patients who had already been through one set of chemotherapy. MolMed claims that the trial shows improved survival times, and a near doubling of the progression-free survival time versus supportive care. Arenegyr works by targeting the vascular (blood-delivery) systems of tumors, and is a combination of a tumor-homing peptide which selectively binds to tumor blood vessels, and an anti-cancer agent. The drug molecule attacks the blood vessels supplying the tumor, and also breaks down the cancer cells. Arenegyr is currently in Phase I trials as an adjunct to cisplatin, and a Phase I trial testing it with doxorubicin was just completed.