New drug boost for asbestos-related lung cancer sufferers

Clinical trials of a new anticancer drug combination carried out by researchers at Newcastle University show that it has potential to almost double the life expectancy of sufferers of Mesothelioma – a form of lung cancer which affects around 1,700 people in the UK every year – according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura – the membranes that lines the inside of the chest and the outside of the lungs. It differs from other types of lung cancer in that it is caused by exposure to asbestos, rather than by smoking. The condition affects five times more men than women, and most commonly develops in men between 50 and 70 years of age.
Mesothelioma is very hard to treat. It is usually inoperable and not very responsive to radiotherapy. With the anticancer drugs previously available, people diagnosed with the disease could expect to survive for only six to eight months.

Now, results of a study by Professor Hilary Calvert, Dr Andrew Hughes and colleagues in the Cancer Research UK-funded Cancer Research Unit at Newcastle University, in collaboration in Eli Lilley, have shown that, on average, patients who were given the new drug, pemetrexed and carboplatin, survived for up to 13 – 14 months. In a handful of cases, patients have survived for three years or more.

Professor Calvert said: `The drug combination showed remarkable activity in Mesothelioma. Indeed, our study provided the first convincing demonstration that pemetrexed to carboplatin could be useful in the treatment of the disease`.

Pemetrexed is an experimental drug being developed by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilley under the trade name Alimta. It is an anticancer drug based on being an analogue of the B-vitamin, folic acid. Drugs of this class were first developed by Professor Calvert and colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research in London in the early 1980s with funding from Cancer Research, leading to the licensing of a drug called raltitrexed (Tomudex).

Because the interval between exposure to asbestos and developing Mesothelioma can be 30 – 40 years, the incidence of the disease is still on the rise, as a result of industrial exposure to asbestos in the 70s and 80s. Currently there are about 1,700 cases per year in the UK, with that figure expected to more or less double by 2020.

The results of the Newcastle trial led Eli Lilley to sponsor a multinational randomised trial in Mesothelioma which was reported at this year`s American Society for Clinical Oncology meeting. The trial showed an improvement of survival and symptoms for the first time in Mesothelioma.
Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK says: `Mesothelioma is a serious condition that is difficult to treat so this is an important development. We now need to look closely at the drugs performance in the next stages of clinical trials to see how it compares to other anti-cancer drugs.`

Media Contact

Claire Jordan alfa

All latest news from the category: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Thermal insulation for quantum technologies

Thermal insulation is not only important for buildings, but also in quantum technologies. While insulation panels around a house keep the heat inside, quantum devices require insulation against heat from…

Spin keeps electrons in line in iron-based superconductor

Electronic nematicity, thought to be an ingredient in high temperature superconductivity, is primarily spin driven in FeSe finds a study in Nature Physics. Researchers from PSI’s Spectroscopy of Quantum Materials…

Scientists devise method to prevent deadly hospital infections without antibiotics

Novel surface treatment developed at UCLA stops microbes from adhering to medical devices like catheters and stents. A hospital or medical clinic might be the last place you’d expect to…

Partners & Sponsors