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Researchers Assess New Cancer Drug to Disrupt Cell Growth in Mesothelioma

Researchers Find Way to Disrupt Cancer Stem Cell Growth

For mesothelioma patients whose cancer has not responded to chemotherapy, researchers are looking at new options to control the aggressive cancer. One new experimental treatment involves the drug IMC-A12, an anti-body that disrupts the process that is believed to cause cancer cells to grow and divide.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are recruiting mesothelioma patients for a clinical trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of IMC-A12 for treating patients whose cancer has continued to spread after undergoing chemotherapy. IMC-A12 is experimental and has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung and abdomen caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is famously resistant to treatment. Platinum-based chemotherapy is the standard treatment for advanced mesothelioma, but not all patients respond to it.

New treatment options are needed for patients with advanced mesothelioma that is inoperable. Researchers are studying the insulin-like growth factor axis as a pathway to arrest the growth and spread of malignant tumors including mesothelioma.

Type I insulin-like growth factor (IGR-1R) is important for cell growth and division. The drug IMC-A12 blocks the receptors in cells that respond to insulin-like growth factor. The theory is that may block the growth of mesothelioma cells, checking the spread of malignant tumors.

The clinical trial is recruiting patients who have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma that cannot be removed surgically

Patients enrolled in the study will receive IMC-A12 every three weeks and will be evaluated before the start of each new cycle of treatment with blood tests and imaging studies. The treatment will continue as long as needed.

The incidence of mesothelioma has increased in the last two decades. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. Most are workers and veterans who inhaled asbestos dust in the workplace decades ago. Asbestos exposure is an occupational hazard of some jobs, increasing the risk that workers will develop mesothelioma. Symptoms of mesothelioma typically appear 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.

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