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Amatuximab May Extend Survival for Mesothelioma Patients on Chemotherapy

3019127_lab tech 7There is mounting evidence that the monoclonal antibody amatuximab could be used to make chemotherapy more effective for people with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Researchers studying amatuximab as part of an international trial recently published results that appear to offer some encouraging news for mesothelioma patients and their families.

What is Amatuximab?

Amatuximab is an chimeric monoclonal antibody developed by a company called Morphotek, Inc. to help in the treatment of people whose cancer cells overexpress the protein mesothelin.

Mesothelin-positive cancers typically include pancreatic, ovarian, mesothelioma and lung. In patients with these cancers, amatuximab binds to the mesothelin and stops the cells from dividing.

In a double-blind, placebo controlled trial that goes by the acronym (ARTEMIS), the compound is being used as a treatment for pleural mesothelioma along with the standard chemotherapy combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin.

Testing Amatuximab for Pleural Mesothelioma

Although the ARTEMIS trial is still ongoing, the newest published study on amatuximab examines the way the drug moves through the bodies of patients with unresectable malignant mesothelioma and its effect on their overall survival.

The team examined all of the studies on amatuximab to date and noted whether the mesothelioma patients involved had received the drug by itself or in combination with chemotherapy.

Then they measured the influence of demographic, laboratory, and disease characteristics on overall mesothelioma survival, progression-free mesothelioma survival, and safety.

Improving Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

The good news for mesothelioma patients and their families in the newly-published report is that, in patients whose bodies absorbed the highest amounts of amatuximab, the drug had a “significant effect” on overall survival and on progression-free survival. 

“In patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, higher amatuximab exposure in combination with chemotherapy was shown to be associated with longer overall survival, supporting evaluation of more frequent dosing in future trials to achieve higher exposure and subsequently longer overall survival,” writes study author Anubha Gupta, a clinical pharmacologist with the European Knowledge Centre in Hertfordshire, UK.

As it stands now, standard chemotherapy does not usually extend mesothelioma survival beyond a few months. Just as importantly, the report found that higher amatuximab exposure did not appear to lead to more treatment complications.

A trial of amatuximab in mesothelioma patients with unresectable mesothelioma is still recruiting patients at several centers in the US, Australia and Europe. More information can be found on the government’s clinical trial website at clinicaltrials.gov.


Gupta, A, et al, “Population pharmacokinetics and exposure–response relationship of amatuximab, an anti-mesothelin monoclonal antibody, in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma and its application in dose selection”, February 22, 2016, Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, Epub ahead of print

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