Thursday, October 21, 2010

Study Involving New Chemotherapy Combination Shows Improved Results Over Cisplatin for Pleural Mesothelioma

To date, chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma have primarily included cisplatin, onconase, carboplatin, gemcitabine, navelbine and pemetrexed (Alimta). In some cases, these medications have been noted to stall the progression of mesothelioma tumors. Chemotherapy, however, has been shown to be most effective when combined with surgery, radiation, or other treatment modalities, known as multi-modal treatment.

Since 2004, the only chemotherapy regimen which the FDA has approved for pleural mesothelioma is cisplatin and Alimta. The approval, however, is limited to patients who are not surgical candidates.

A recent European study has monitored the results of cisplatin used in combination with a drug called Tomudex (raltitrexed) for pleural mesothelioma. The study has shown improved median survival rates for patients on the cisplatin-Tomudex combination as compared to cisplatin alone.

Tomudex is an injectable cytotoxic medication used to treat different forms of cancer. The medication belongs to a group of cancer-fighting drugs called antineoplastics. Tomudex combats cancer by preventing cancer cell growth, which in time leads to their elimination.

In the study, one group was treated with cisplatin alone and another group was treated with both cisplatin and Tomudex. The overall response rate for the cisplatin-Tomudex group was higher than the cisplatin group, 23.6 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively. Tomudex was shown to improve median overall survival by 2.8 months and Tomudex was associated with improved progression-free survival.

Professor J.P. van Meerbeeck (professor of Thoracic Oncology at Ghent University, Belgium) said, “Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a hard to treat, rare cancer with a poor prognosis. New treatment options such as a combination of cisplatin and raltitrexed, which improve patient outcomes with no detrimental effect on quality of life as compared to cisplatin alone are a welcome addition to our therapeutic portfolio.”

Tomudex is currently licensed for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma in Portugal, Czech Republic and Hungary. Additional licensing is expected across Europe in late 2010.

Please check back with Mesothelioma Bytes for future updates on the testing and approval of Tomudex in the treatment of mesothelioma.

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