Researchers in Austria, Germany and Hungary have contributed to the growing belief that the anti-cancer drug nintedanib may soon become an important part of the standard treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
In their recently published study in Clinical Cancer Researchnintedanib demonstrated the ability to effectively inhibit the growth and migration of mesothelioma tumor cells in animal models.
“This is a step in the right direction, another part of the evolutionary process of progress in the treatment of this difficult disease,” Dr. Balazs Hegedus, Department of Thoracic Surgery, University of Duisburg-Essen, at Asbestos.com. “This is an important finding.”
NintedanibAlso known by the brand names Ofev and Vargetef, it works by targeting a specific molecule expressed by most mesothelioma tumor cells. It functions just like bevacizumab (Avastin), one of the world’s best-selling cancer drugs, but it does that more effectively, according to this latest study.
“Importantly, this antitumor effect of nintedanib in laboratory animals was stronger than that of bevacizumab,” said Dr. Balazs Dome, Head of the Translational Thoracic Oncology Program at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. “An important message is that nintedanib is considered superior as part of systemic antitumor therapy.”
Nintedanib suffocates tumor cells
Nintedanib inhibits tumor growth by depriving cancer cells of the oxygen and nutrients they need.
The drug is already approved for use in pulmonary fibrosis and certain cases of lung cancer.
There is a multi-center clinical trial that spans several countries and is already testing its effectiveness in combination with chemotherapy. It’s called the LUME-Meso test and is closely monitored.
Participating clinical trial sites in the United States include:
Nintedanib gains momentum
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit is hosting the only US study of a standalone treatment of nintedanib as a second-line therapy for pleural mesothelioma.
The Institut Gustave Roussy in France is conducting a clinical trial for mesothelioma using nintedanib in combination with pembrolizumab (Keytruda).
The US Food and Drug Administration granted nintedanib orphan drug designation in December 2016, limiting its availability during the approval process.
“It will be exciting to see the results of the clinical trials,” Hegendus said. “We already know it’s a safe drug and the inhibitory effect is real.”
Early LUME-Meso results are impressive
The first results of the trial are promising. They included a progression-free survival of 9.4 months, which was almost double compared to chemotherapy alone.
The median overall survival benefit was 18.3 months, compared with 14.2 months for chemotherapy alone.
The standard treatment for inoperable mesothelioma has been relatively ineffective for years with a one-year survival rate of around 50 percent.
The UK Regulatory Industry early access designation granted earlier this year on nintedanib for use in pleural mesothelioma.
Doctors in the UK use it in combination with chemotherapy for certain lung cancers.
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