Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Explained
Many of today’s standard mesothelioma treatments—such as chemotherapy and targeted radiation—were first tested in clinical trials to demonstrate safety and effectiveness before becoming available to the public.
Participating in a clinical trial can be an attractive option for a wide range of mesothelioma patients. Clinical trials offer patients the opportunity to receive the most cutting-edge treatments based to the latest expert research.
Patients may choose to sign up for a clinical trial for a variety of reasons, including:
- They’ve recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma
- They’ve stopped responding to chemotherapy and/or radiation
- The mesothelioma has come back after being in full or partial remission (recurrence)
Advancing Therapies to Clinical Trial
Mesothelioma clinical trials test new drugs or therapies on patients after the treatments displayed positive effects when tested on laboratory animals. If a new mesothelioma treatment has made it to the clinical trial stage, it means that these therapies are considered reasonably safe and they may improve patient prognosis.
How to Participate in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
If you are interested in joining a clinical trial and are aware of the associated risks and benefits, you can speak with your doctor about the active clinical trials you may be eligible to join. ClinicalTrials.gov, a resource provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is also an easily accessible clinical trial database.
Once a suitable clinical trial has been found, patients can join the study either by talking with their doctor or reaching out to the clinical trial research team.
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Where do Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Take Place?
Where a mesothelioma clinical trial takes place depends on the therapy or technique that the trial is testing, as well as the phase of the trial (more on clinical trial phases below).
In general, clinical trials can take place in the same location where you’d receive standard mesothelioma treatments, such as:
- Cancer centers
- Doctors offices
These studies can take place in one single location, with a small study population, or across numerous hospitals, involving thousands of mesothelioma patients across the country.
Clinical trials are usually conducted in larger city centers, so patients may need to travel if they live in a rural area.
Clinical Trial Phases
Mesothelioma clinical trials study a wide range of topics and are split into phases to ensure optimal safety and benefits. Patients should educate themselves on the various types and phases of clinical trials before deciding to participate.
Clinical trial phases start with smaller study populations that eventually grow if the treatment method being researched shows positive effects.
- Preclinical Trial: Initial tests on animals or in vitro human cells to assess if the proposed treatment is safe for humans.
- Phase 0: Small studies (10-15 people) that are focused on how the treatment will affect the human body.
- Phase 1: Focus on appropriate dosage, the safest way to administer the treatment and any associated side effects. These elements are determined by dividing the study population into several groups with different variables.
- Phase 2: Information gathered in Phase 1 is used to see if the treatment is effective in fighting mesothelioma. Phase 2 clinical trials study populations are generally less than 100 people.
- Phase 3: The researched treatment is administered in with a mainstream mesothelioma treatment (half the study population receives the clinical trial drug and the other half the control. This helps researchers to understand if the proposed treatment is more effective than standard treatments.
- FDA Approval: The new mesothelioma treatment is submitted to the FDA for an extensive review of all the associated research. A decision is made at the end of the review whether the treatment is safe and effective, and therefore, available to the public.
- Phase 4: After the drug is approved, long-term aftermarket studies may be conducted. These trials explore the impacts of the new therapy in greater detail to better understand the associated benefits and risks.
What do Clinical Trials Test for?
There are many types of clinical trials and if patients meet the eligibility requirements, they may have an opportunity to participate and benefit from research in various aspects of mesothelioma prevention, treatment and management.
Clinical trials focus on new approaches, methods and techniques of:
- Screening for mesothelioma
- Preventing mesothelioma
- Diagnosing mesothelioma
- Treating mesothelioma with new and novel therapies
- Managing mesothelioma symptoms
Clinical trials may attempt to develop improved methods for detecting mesothelioma at an earlier stage to give patients the best possible prognosis. Detecting mesothelioma early can be extremely challenging, meaning that developing improved screening methods is a high priority within the medical community.
Researchers are testing new ways to reduce incidents of mesothelioma or controlling mechanisms to prevent it from recurring. Since mesothelioma generally develops over years of exposure to asbestos, clinical trials focused on disease prevention usually involve participants who are in remission (when visible signs of mesothelioma are gone).
Scientists look for better ways to diagnose pleural, peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma. Doctors have found it difficult to distinguish mesothelioma from other forms of cancer.
Given the relatively low survival rates of mesothelioma, the majority of clinical trials are committed to finding improved treatment methods to increase patient survival. These clinical trials may test new drug combinations or procedures within standard treatment methods (chemotherapy, surgery and radiation) or the effectiveness of alternative therapies.
If a patient’s mesothelioma has progressed to the point where surgery is not possible, doctors may prescribe other treatments to help manage pain and increase their quality of life.
Mesothelioma management clinical trials may focus on improving quality of life through:
- New diets that improve overall health and a patient’s ability to fight mesothelioma
- Social supports that make patients feel more connected and empowered
- Pain management methods that improve comfort in the final stages of life
How Clinical Trials Benefit the Medical Community
Given that mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer, clinical trials add new knowledge to the existing body of research. Clinical trials tell doctors about the unique behavior of mesothelioma, how to effectively treat it and methods for preventing it from spreading and recurring.
Clinical trials answer important questions within the medical community. Their results lead to deeper investigations so doctors become better at managing and treating mesothelioma and extending patient survival.
Numerous people with mesothelioma are now living longer due to the scientific discoveries within clinical trials.
Active Clinical Trials
Below are 2 examples of mesothelioma clinical trials that are currently recruiting patients:
- “Pevonedistat Alone and in Combination with Chemotherapy in Patients with Mesothelioma” is testing the positive and negative effects of pevonedistat—a targeted therapy that stops cancer cell growth—taken alone and in combination with standard chemotherapy drugs, pemetrexed and cisplatin. This study is recruiting patients in New York and New Jersey.
- “Olaparib in People With Malignant Mesothelioma” is studying whether certain drugs can prevent cancer cells from repairing their DNA. The drug is already in use for people with BRCA gene mutations who developed cancer. This study is recruiting in Maryland.
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Get Connected With a Clinical Trial That’s Right for You
Each clinical trial has eligibility requirements that patients must meet before being accepted into a study. Patients need to consult with a mesothelioma specialist to discuss the risks and benefits of participating in mesothelioma clinical trials. Patients must also consider what trials they qualify for given their mesothelioma location, stage and cell type.
If you’re interested in participating in a mesothelioma clinical trial, contact our Justice Support Team today. Call us at (888) 360-4215 to get connected with a mesothelioma specialist who can recommend active clinical trials suitable for you. Or request our Mesothelioma Justice Guide for more helpful information on treatment options.