A once promising clinical trial has been stopped due to poor outcomes. The VS-6063 (defactinib), which targeted malignant mesothelioma stem stells, has been halted indefinitely.
Verastem Inc. released a statement earlier this month, stating that the level of efficacy of the VS-6063 was too low, despite promising results during its 2014 phase II clinical trial. The president and CEO of Verastem, Robert Forrester, stated that the hypothesis failed to translate clinically, resulting in a halt in the clinical trials.
“We have stopped further enrollment and initiated an orderly wind-down of the COMMAND study. Clearly, this is very disappointing. The study was designed based upon pre-clinical data that predicted greater sensitivity to 6063 in mesothelioma patients. Unfortunately, the hypothesis did not translate clinically.”
Forrester also indicated that mesothelioma patients who were given VS-6063 show little differences in improvement when compared to patients who were given a placebo.
“It shows how difficult a patient population this is. Unfortunately, this [mesothelioma] has been a graveyard for drug development. A single agent in a disease like this is not the right setting for 6063.”
The Future of Stem Cell Drugs
Although the VS-6063 has been stopped, Verastem indicates that they are in the process of testing numerous other drugs. Among the drugs being tested are stem cell drugs that aim to target mesothelioma cell. Verastem reports that even though stem cells make up only a small fraction of cancerous tumors, they play an important role in tumor resistance when it comes to chemotherapy.
Originally, Verastem considered the VS-6063 drug a strong way to keep people with malignant mesothelioma from relapsing after treatment, but now that the clinical trial for mesothelioma patients has been stopped, the company will use test the drug on other illnesses, including non-small cell lung cancer and ovarian cancer.
Additionally, Forrester indicates that in the future, VS-6063 may potentially be tested on mesothelioma patients again. Yet, it will more than likely be combined with other medications. In the meantime, Verastem will putting a lot of resources into finding medications to help treat those with mesothelioma. Forrester indicates that although mesothelioma is a unique disease, the process if a learning experience that he hopes will eventually lead to the best answer for treatment.
“We need to learn from this. This is a reminder of how tough mesothelioma is, and how tough biotechnical drug development is. But we still are passionate about our mission, and still believe we can make a difference.”
Other Mesothelioma Clinical Trials
In the meantime, there are still numerous other ongoing clinical trials for mesothelioma patients. Clinical trials are an important part of finding the best treatment for mesothelioma and possibly finding a cure. For more information on clinical trials in your area, visit the U.S. Institute of Health’s Clinical Studies page.
Additional Help And Resource for People with Mesothelioma
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