Swiss scientists are developing a novel gel-based mesothelioma treatment for people with pleural disease. Early studies suggest it may be a safer way to deliver cancer-fighting drugs with fewer side effects.
The gel-based mesothelioma treatment combines the chemotherapy drug cisplatin with a natural “glue” called fibrin. When the gel is applied during surgery, it can keep fighting tumors for months.
Why Develop a Gel-Based Treatment?
In the past decade, doctors came up with a way to increase the effectiveness of cisplatin in people with peritoneal mesothelioma. These patients get chemotherapy the usual way. But they also get a rinse of a heated chemotherapy solution through the abdomen after surgery. The aim is to kill any remaining cancer cells.
The approach has increased peritoneal mesothelioma survival. But it is does not work as well as gel-based mesothelioma treatment for people with pleural mesothelioma.
While the rinse approach does help keep pleural tumors from growing back, it also tends to cause kidney failure. The Swiss team says it may be because pleural mesothelioma patients absorb too much cisplatin, too fast.
The gel-based mesothelioma treatment may offer a way to get around the problem.
Cisplatin + Fibrin = Pleural Mesothelioma Solution
Cisplatin is one component of the new gel-based mesothelioma treatment. The other is fibrin. Fibrin is a protein involved in the clotting of blood. The Swiss researchers refer to it as a natural “glue”.
The researchers got fibrin from fresh frozen blood plasma. They used the fibrin as a carrier for cisplatin. Then they sprayed the gel-based mesothelioma treatment onto pleural mesothelioma tumors in animals.
The gel helped the cisplatin stay in place without speeding up absorption. Treatment results were just as good as liquid and the animals did not have as many kidney problems.
The gel-based mesothelioma treatment also produced high concentrations of cisplatin in the chest. Cisplatin levels stayed high up to 70 days after surgery.
Next Steps for New Mesothelioma Treatment
The next step is for doctors to test the gel-based mesothelioma treatment in human patients. About three quarters of the patients have already been treated in the INFLuenCe-Meso II trial. The trial will test safety and tolerability.
“The study will also allow us to gather information about the clinical efficacy of the treatment,” explain Professor Isabelle Optiz and Dr. Michaela Kirschner. Both researchers work at The Lung and Thoracic Oncology Centre at the University Hospital Zurich.
Opitz and Kirschner are also testing the gel-based mesothelioma treatment again in animals. This time they want to see if the gel could complement radiation therapy.
“Malignant pleural mesothelioma: from bedside to bench and from bench to bedside”, May 29, 2019, Scitech Europa, https://www.scitecheuropa.eu/malignant-pleural-mesothelioma/95405/