Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. Because it spreads quickly and there is no single cure with standard therapies, participating in a clinical trial can be one way for mesothelioma patients to access promising treatments without waiting for FDA approval.
Every clinical trial has its own set of requirements for participation. Some are open to newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients while others are reserved for those who have failed to respond to other treatments. Participants usually must agree to a full physical exam, including urine and blood samples, and must agree to follow study protocols and have regular follow-up appointments.
The National Cancer Institute provides a online database of clinical trials for mesothelioma and every other cancer. Currently it lists 68 clinical trials for mesothelioma. Below is just a sampling of some of the trials listed.
1) Psychosocial Needs and Exploration of Online Support for Patients with Mesothelioma – The aim of this trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is to learn about how mesothelioma affects patients’ emotional and physical well-being. Participants will be asked to complete behavioral questionnaires and participate in online virtual support groups. The study will include both surgical and non-surgical mesothelioma patients who are receiving care.
2) Phase II Study of IMC-A12 in Patients with Mesothelioma Who Have Been Previously Treated with Chemotherapy – IMC-A12 is a new antibody designed to block the effects of a protein called Type I Insulin-Like Growth Factor, which is thought to play a role in helping cancer cells grow and divide. The NIH study is accepting advanced mesothelioma patients who have not responded to chemotherapy.
3) Pemetrexed Disodium and Cisplatin with or without Cediranib Maleate in Treating Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma – Cediranib maleate may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth and by blocking blood flow to the tumor. Giving this drug along with standard chemotherapy drugs may kill more mesothelioma cells. The Southwest Oncology Group is conducting the study in collaboration with NIH. Mesothelioma patients must not have had radiotherapy within the past 28 days or any chemotherapy.
4) Intrapleural Measles Virus Therapy in Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma – This Phase I NIH clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic will try to determine the side effects and best dose of a modified measles virus delivered into the intrapleural cavity of mesothelioma patients. The hope is that the modified virus cells will kill mesothelioma cells without damaging normal cells. It may also trigger an immune response to destroy more tumor cells. Participating mesothelioma patients must be able to come to the Mayo Clinic or the University of Minnesota for follow-up.
Mesothelioma patients are encouraged to review the full list of mesothelioma clinical trials listed in the NCI database. In addition, for some clinical trial, published results are available from PubMed and Cancer Monthly.