Science and Health

Drug said to be a breakthrough in asbestos-linked mesothelioma cancers

A trial including participants in multiple countries found a new drug cuts off the nutrient supply for tumors, dramatically improving survival rates.

Dr. Brad Black with the Center for Asbestos Related Disease health clinic.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File
SMS

Researchers say they've developed a new drug to treat the asbestos-linked cancer known as mesothelioma. The breakthrough findings on the drug hope to lead to helping treat the difficult cancer after decades of effort. 

A trial that included participants in five countries — led by professor Peter Szlosarek at Queen Mary University in the U.K. — found that the drug has the ability to cut off the supply of what the cancer feeds on, so to speak. Scientists called the results "truly wonderful," publishing results in the journal JAMA

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Results from the randomized placebo-controlled phase 3 trial included 249 patients with nonepithelioid pleural mesothelioma.

A patient who researchers said benefited from the drug said, "This trial has changed the lives of people with mesothelioma, allowing us to live longer."

Patients in the trial had an average age of 70 and were from countries including the U.K., United States, Australia, Italy and Taiwan. 

Authors in the study wrote, "In this pivotal, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial in 249 patients with pleural mesothelioma, pegargiminase-chemotherapy increased significantly the median overall survival by 1.6 months and quadrupled the survival at 36 months compared to placebo-chemotherapy."

Szlosarek said, "We look forward to seeing this treatment become available as a standard option to all patients in the future."