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Investigational Mesothelioma Drug to be Tested in Human Patients

16142723_woman patient2Researchers in Japan say they are about to start the first clinical trial of an investigational mesothelioma drug that has shown promise in animals.

The drug is a monoclonal antibody called YS110 that targets a protein called CD26. CD26 is believed to play a role in mesothelioma tumor growth and invasion and in the process of cell death known as apoptosis. It is overexpressed in 85 percent of malignant mesothelioma cases.

New Hope for Mesothelioma Treatment?

While CD26 is overexpressed by mesothelioma cells – particularly epithelial cells, the most common subtype of mesothelioma – scientists at Juntendo University have found that normal mesothelial cells do not express this protein.

In previous studies, the same research team showed that YS110 had significant anti-tumor activity in mice infected with a human strain of mesothelioma, suppressing mesothelioma tumor growth by 20% in just 48 hours.

The drug also appeared to act on a variety of signaling molecules in the mesothelioma cells, disrupting their normal cell cycle and causing them to enter their death phase sooner. YS110 worked even better when combined with the mesothelioma chemotherapy drug, pemetrexed.

Just as importantly, when the potential new mesothelioma drug was later safety-tested in human patients by French researchers, they found that it appeared to produce the desired effect without triggering any serious side effects.

YS110 in Clinical Trials

The next step for this investigational mesothelioma therapy is a clinical trial to see how the drug performs on actual mesothelioma patients as part of a treatment protocol.

The trial will include mesothelioma patients with advanced inoperable mesothelioma or mesothelioma that has come back after treatment. According to an article in the Japanese medical journal Cancer and Chemotherapy, the team plans to launch a trial “in the very near future”.

Why Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma?

Clinical trials offer more than just a way to test potential new mesothelioma treatments. They also offer new treatment options for mesothelioma patients who may have run out of options.

Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive cancer, there are a number of new drugs now being tested in clinical trials. Oncologists often refer eligible mesothelioma patients to these trials.

More information about these trials and the criteria for participation can be found at the US government’s clinical trials website at www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

Morimoto, Chikao and Ohnuma, K, “Development of New Therapy for Malignant Mesothelioma Based on CD26 Molecule”, July 2015, Cancer & Chemotherapy, pp. 855-862

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