In 2016, scientists and researchers were excited to begin Phase II of the clinical trial involving treating patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma with Nintedanib, a triple angiokinase inhibitor designed to hinder protein kinases in cancer cells and stop cancer cells from growing their own blood vessels. The LUME-Meso Phase II trial yielded promising results – so much so, that researchers believe that Nintedanib may be more effective than Bevacizumab, which is one of the world’s most effective cancer treatments.
Nintedanib works by depriving the cancer cells of oxygen, and in doing so, tumor growth is significantly inhibited. Nintedanib targets three different growth receptors: vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) and platelet derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR), which all play an important role in blood vessel formation, cell signaling, and cell proliferation (growth). Nintedanib is currently being evaluated in the LUME-Meso Phase III trial and is already an FDA approved for treatment of pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer.
A common chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma is Bevacizumab (Avastin), which also fights cancer cells by preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the ever-growing tumor(s). Like nintedanib, bevacizumab can find and control specific cancer proteins like VEGR and its receptor. This protein aids in the formation of new blood vessels and when it is over-produced, it can contribute to disease. In asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma, this is common.
However, bevacizumab has been known to cause some serious side effects such as hemorrhaging, blood clots in the lungs, low white blood cells count, and gastrointestinal issues; all of which can be deadly complications, especially when combined with other chemotherapies. Additionally, when compared to nintedanib, bevacizumab anti-tumor effects were not as strong and not as effective in animal testing.
Mesothelioma commonly affects the lungs, but it can also affect the lining of the heart, stomach, and internal reproductive organs. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, and while the disease is preventable, it is highly fatal and there unfortunately is no cure. Chemotherapy treatments may be effective if the cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, but since the latency period between first exposure to asbestos and the time of diagnosis can span 20- 40 years, often time the cancer is advanced by the time it is detected.
Clinical trials for mesothelioma are a common way to test and observe new techniques and treatments and are completed with the help of volunteers. If you are suffering from mesothelioma, it’s important to find the right mesothelioma specialist to help guide you to the rights treatment regimen and see if you qualify for the latest trial.
Viktoria Laszlo, et. al., “Nintedanib Is Active In Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Cell Models And Inhibits Angiogenesis And Tumor Growth In Vivo,” Cancer Therapy (May 3, 2018). [Link]