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How Clinical Trials Play a Role in Finding Cures and Treatments for Mesothelioma

Science is advanced through research, and the research process begins with clinical trials. Many us of have grown more familiar with the clinical trial process with the search for a vaccine for COVID-19. As the search continues for a cure for malignant mesothelioma, it is imperative that people involved in the mesothelioma community continue to be aware of what scientists are researching at this point for potential cures and quality life-extending treatments.

Chemotherapy has been the standard of care for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma since it was approved by the FDA in 2004. Scientists continue to discover what the best methods to administer chemotherapy for malignant mesothelioma are. The usual route of administration is intravenously every three weeks for a 6 cycle treatment. In general, chemotherapy can be absorbed by mouth, intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously, intraperitoneally directly into the abdomen, intravesicular directly into the bladder, intrapleurally into the pleural space, through implantable devices, topically, and intra-arterially. Intra-arterial chemotherapy is given directly into the artery that is supplying the blood to the tumor. It is done through angiography a special x-ray using dye to see the blood vessels.

NCT02611037 is a clinical trial that is currently being offered at the Lee Moffitt Center in Tampa, Florida. This is a unique trial that offers chemotherapy through a different approach by administering the chemotherapy intra-arterially, directly into the artery that is supplying the blood to the tumor. The chemotherapy is administered by angiography using a special x-ray dye to see the blood vessels. 

One of the main challenges of treating malignant pleural mesothelioma is the location of the disease within the human body. The purpose of this study is to deliver transarterial chemoperfusion treatment with cisplatin, methotrexate, and gemcitabine in a safe and effective manner. This procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist, who injects one third of the drug into the internal mammary artery which supplies the blood supply to the pleura. The other two thirds of the drug are then injected into the descending aorta. This area of the body also has blood vessels that supply blood to the pleura. The procedure usually takes one hour and is followed by a one hour post-recovery period before patients are discharged. 

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In this study, patients undergo angiogram and transarterial chemo administration treatment every 4 weeks (3-6 weeks interval allowed) with cisplatin, methotrexate, and gemcitabine. The medications are administered into the thoracic aorta and/or the internal mammary artery. 

Initial findings are promising. This treatment is safe and effective and may improve quality of life for patients who may not have many other options. For more information on the NCT02611037 trial, please go to www.clinicaltrials.gov or talk to your mesothelioma team.

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Last Modified: September 1, 2020

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