In an interview at the 16th Annual British Thoracic Oncology Group Conference in January, one of the world’s premier authorities on mesothelioma outlined key mesothelioma clinical trials underway in the U.K. He says “what excites me” are the randomized trials that are available to patients.
Dean Fennell, PhD, FRCP, of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK, highlighted significant mesothelioma trials being conducted in the UK saying there is starting to be “incremental benefit” from the trials, and the UK is leading the way.
“If these trials read out as positive, we will change practice,” said Dr. Fennell. “And we haven’t really done that since 2003 when the original chemotherapy was shown to work, and is now our standard.”
The trials he identified are:
- CheckpOiNt Blockade For Inhibition of Relapsed Mesothelioma (CONFIRM) using Opdivo (nivolumab);
- PROMISE-meso Study of Pembrolizumab vs. standard chemotherapy;
- VIM trial using vinorelbine in the second-line setting.
Mesothelioma is an incurable, highly aggressive asbestos-caused cancer that is resistant to many cancer treatments. But the effort to find a cure or an effective treatment for the disease is being fought internationally, and clinical trials are offered throughout the U.S. and the world.
According to the National Institutes of Health, clinical trials are at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials serve to uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose and understand human disease. For mesothelioma patients, mesothelioma clinical trials are the best options for patients struggling to find a new, effective treatment. Trials offer patients a breakthrough treatment not yet available through their physician.
Both the CONFIRM and PROMISE trials are looking at immunotherapy as a treatment for mesothelioma. For the VIM trial, Dr. Fennell hopes the researchers find results to satisfy the community as to whether the chemotherapy drug vinorelibine “has a genuine measurable benefit, and how big that benefit will be.” Dr. Fennell also notes that this trial will look at a biomarker strategy to see if the proteins can serve as markers to identify who will benefit from the drug.
Mavis Nye, a mesothelioma survivor who participated in the MK3475-28 clinical trial at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, can attest to the benefits of clinical trials. After two years in the trial she is now in remission from mesothelioma and has gone on to start her own foundation, the Mavis Nye Foundation, to benefit other mesothelioma patients. Mavis is so pro-trial that she served as Research Patient Representative for the CONFIRM trial, and her foundation offers financial assistance to mesothelioma patients undergoing experimental treatments.
“We are seeing an acceleration now in a number of advances, not just within the UK but worldwide,” says Dr. Fennell.
If someone is suffering from mesothelioma, they should check with their physician to determine if any current studies exist for their particular case. When determining if you should participate in a trial it is important to work with your medical team to determine if the benefits outweigh any risks.