Promising Mesothelioma Chemo Drug Fails Phase III Trial

According to MedPage Today, the drug known as Vorinostat (Zolinza) “failed to extend survival as a second-line therapy in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.”  The news source explains that this phase III trial, “the largest of its kind in advanced mesothelioma, failed to meet its primary endpoint of lengthening overall survival in those who failed prior chemotherapy,” Lee Krug, M.D. at a New York cancer center explained. Krug reported these findings at a session of the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress, explaining there was no statistically-important improvement in overall survival with the use of this treatment compared to placeboes, MedPage reports. The trial had a total of 660 patients enrolled at 92 sites, MedPage explains. The median age of these patients was 65. According to the results of the trial, “Krug and colleagues found no overall survival benefit with the drug, with a median of 30.7 weeks compared with 27.1 weeks in the placebo group,” the medical site reports. The cancer center doctor went on to explain that the average survival rate for advanced mesothelioma patents is “about a year from diagnosis, with 2,000 to 3,000 cases reported annually in the U.S.,” MedPage explains. Most cases of mesothelioma result from exposure that took place as many as five decades ago, with the medical news site reporting that these cases  are “expected to peak between 2015 and 2020 since the product has fallen out of use.” The article goes on to explain that this Vorinostat trial was important because currently no second-line chemotherapy option exists for patients who have failed the first-line therapies with other drugs. First-line options currently used include Alimta combined with either cisplatin or carboplatin. According to the medical resource, “adverse events were comparable between groups, although they were slightly higher with vorinostat,” though Krug explained this was to be expected with the medication’s natural toxicities, which include dehydration and fatigue. Krug also went on to explain that tumor pain was also greater with the group taking the placebo. The news source explains that this was the largest drug study ever performed for mesothelioma. The news source also goes on to cite Rolf Stahel, MD, PhD, of University Hospital Zurich, a doctor not involved with the study, as stating that “newer molecular approaches, such as HSP90 inhibitors, may hold more promise for treating the disease.” Reference:
  • Fiore, Kristina. (September 28, 2011) “ECCO-ESMO: Drug for Mesothelioma Fails Trial.” Retrieved on September 29, 2011 from MedPage Today.
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