Authors and researchers of a novel medication indicated earlier this month that the drug has shown promising results in increasing the survival rates of pleural mesothelioma patients. Although the medication is still in the phase III clinical stage, experts feel that the results so far may one day make a positive impact on those who suffer from the life-threatening disease.
Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, is an angiogenesis inhibitor drug that’s used as chemotherapy treatment. The powerful medication is said to slow the growth of new blood vessels that grow inside mesothelioma tumors.
The study, performed by the French team of physicians, sponsored by the Intergroupe Francophone de Cancerologie Thoracique, indicates that in combination with traditional chemotherapy treatment cisplatin and pemetrexed, mesothelioma patients have a “significantly longer survival.”
Dr. Lee M. Krug, a physician at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, indicated earlier this month that the positive news of the drug is good news for the medical community, as well as mesothelioma patients.
“The mesothelioma community has been waiting for this kind of news for a long time—it is the first positive phase III trial in mesothelioma since the original study of pemetrexed/cisplatin over 10 years ago.”
Avastin Study Details and Results
The Avastin study was performed from 2008-2014, in over 70 medical centers. In included a total of 773 mesothelioma patients. One half study participants received the standard cisplatin and pemetrexed injections, while the other half received Avastin, combined with cisplatin and pemetrexed.
The results have indicated that those who received the cisplatin/pemetrexed along with the Avastin showed a overall longer survival rate. The patients in the study were ineligible for surgery and had never taken mesothelioma chemotherapy medications before.
The results were presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncologists Annual Meeting, on May 30. The French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup’s Dr. Gerald Zalcman, wrote in his presentation at the meeting that people with malignant pleural mesothelioma may have a much longer survival rate when the novel medication is combined with traditional chemotherapy medications.
“It provides a significantly longer survival in patients with MPM, with acceptable toxicity, making this triplet a new treatment paradigm.”
Forty-five of the patients in the study who took Avastin in combination with cisplatin and pemetrexed survived longer than 30 months.
Avastin Administration and Side Effects
Avastin was administered to the patients intravenously once every three weeks, in a total of six cycles, throughout the duration of the study.
The side effects of Avastin were unfortunately shown to be much higher in the study when compared to established chemotherapy medications. However, researchers in the study pointed out that the side effects of Avastin were manageable.
After Phase III Clinical Trials
Mesothelioma medications that get to phase III of clinical trials are extremely important as most do not make it that far. If a medication makes it to phase III, it indicates that it’s safe for a larger population of mesothelioma patients.
Phase III also confirms that the medication will be effective enough to be a possible solid treatment in the future for mesothelioma patients. When medications pass phase III in clinical trials, they are then usually marketed for prescription use.
Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Loved Ones
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