Promising Data Released on New Mesothelioma Therapy

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The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) reported from the World Conference on Lung Cancer, that the former chair of its Science Advisory Board, Raffit Hassan, MD, of the National Cancer Institute, released data demonstrating that the novel agent anetumab ravtansine effectiveness in malignant mesothelioma patients.

Anetumab ravtansine shows encouraging efficacy in patients with advanced mesothelioma which warrants further study.

At the 2015 World Conference on Lung Cancer, Dr. Raffit Hassan of the National Cancer Institute presented promising data on a novel agent, anetumab ravtansine, also known as BAY 94-9343. Anetumab ravtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate directed against the target molecule mesothelin which is highly expressed on mesotheliomas.

This was a phase I study to determine the safety and activity of anetumab ravtansine in patients with cancer who had failed standard therapies. Based on early results of this trial, more mesothelioma patients were enrolled to better define the activity of this drug in patients with pleural mesothelioma who had progressed on chemotherapy. Out of the 16 mesothelioma patients treated at the maximum tolerated dose, 5 (31%) had objective tumor shrinkage while 7 (44%) had stable disease. However, out of the 10 mesothelioma patients who received anetumab ravtansine as second line therapy, 5 (50%) had objective tumor shrinkage and 4 (40%) had stable disease. In most patients, the tumor response was very durable with three patients still receiving the drug more than two years after starting therapy.

“Anetumab ravtansine shows encouraging efficacy in patients with advanced mesothelioma which warrants further study,” stated Dr. Hassan, a senior investigator and the head of the Thoracic and Solid Tumor Immunotherapy Section at the National Cancer Institute who has been working on developing mesothelin targeted therapies for patients with mesothelioma and other cancers for the last two decades.

Antibody-drug conjugates (also known as ADCs) are a new class of drugs that function by linking a particular antibody to a cancer-fighting drug. When combined, the antibody precisely targets the cancer cell, delivering the drug directly to it, thus avoiding extensive damage to healthy cells typical of traditional chemotherapies.

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. With the life expectancy of less than one year after diagnosis, medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. An estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards. Currently, few treatment options exist. There is no cure.

About The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by this cancer. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer-reviewed scientific research to develop life-saving treatments for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $8.7 million to research. More information is available at http://www.curemeso.org.

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