New Study Launched for Mesothelioma Treatment

A combination therapy for mesothelioma is the subject of a new study launched by Morphotek Inc. The study will examine a primary treatment regime that wevaluates the effects of Morphotek’s antibody MORAb-009 coupled with chemotherapy drugs cisplatinum and pemetrexed.

This Phase II study’s aim is to see if MORAb-009 will aid patients with advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma. The regime’s effects on tumor size and overall safety were also to be evaluated in the study. Worldwide, 86 participants were predicted to be enrolled in the clinical study. These patients must not have had any other treatments for their locally advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma to be included in the clinical trials.

Hope was held out for the outcome of the study by the Chief Medical Officer of Morphotek, Martin D. Phillips, M.D., who said, “We are excited to have initiated this Phase II study of MORAb-009 in mesothelioma in cooperation with leading physician-scientists.

“Mesothelioma has a generally poor prognosis, so we hope that MORAb-009 will one day provide a benefit and hope to mesothelioma cancer patients.”

The treatment being evaluated in the study, MORAb-009 is a monoclonal antibody. It acts to stop the actions of the protein surface on mesothelioma tumor cells — mesothelin. By preventing the mesothelin from functioning, the tumor cells are stopped from being able to attach to cells and grow.

MORAb-009 was shown in testing done before initial clinical trials that it acted to prevent mesothelin from attaching to healthy cells by binding with it. MORAb-009 then allowed the patient’s own immune system to destroy any tumor cells to which the antibody was attached. Phase I trials attested to the safety of using the antibody against tumors of especially difficult to treat cancers such as mesothelioma and pancreatic cancer.

This new treatment gives hope to the 2,500 to 3,000 people who are annually diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States. The same number of people die each year in the United States from the cancer, and it accounts for more than 43,000 deaths around the world annually.