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Researchers are Trying to Find New Treatments to Combine with Tumor Treating Fields

Published: July 30, 2021

Tumor Treating Fields were approved for treating mesothelioma, and while they are effective, researchers want to make them more effective for the cancer. A researcher at the Humanitas University in Milan is studying different drug combinations to use with Tumor Treating Fields. The goal is to find a drug that has a synergistic effect with the fields to fight cancer. If a synergistic drug is found, patients could see a better response to treatment and could live longer, more comfortable lives.

Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) are electrical fields used to fight cancer. The treatment works by attaching adhesive pads to the skin which emit different electrical fields, disrupting cancer cell division. Different frequencies are used which then disrupt specific proteins that are crucial to cell division. The treatment has been proven to slow or even stop cancer growth and is usually used with chemotherapy. The clinical trial that led to FDA approval showed patients lived six months longer because of the treatment with more than 97 percent of the patients having some type of response. The median survival increased from 12.1 months to 18.2 months with the treatment, but for the researcher in Milan, he wants it to be longer. Tumor Treating Fields are not enough on their own, so the goal is to find the right treatment to combine with the TTF to make the most effective treatment possible.

D’Incalci, the researcher in Milan, was one of six to receive a grant from Novocure to find a way to make the treatment better. He is the only researcher using this treatment for pleural mesothelioma.

There is a study right now looking at Tumor Treating Fields being used alongside Keytruda, whose generic name is pembrolizumab, to treat lung cancer. It will soon be used with mesothelioma to study its effectiveness. Tumor Treating Fields have been studied for more than 20 years and their first approval was for the brain cancer glioblastoma in 2011. Based on other research, it is expected that Tumor Treating Fields will be effective alongside radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Many different combinations are being tested for mesothelioma to find the right therapy. There are currently 50 different centers around the United States that can prescribe Tumor Treating Fields for patients. There are some side effects, but the side effects strictly from Tumor Treating Fields are typically mild. Patients with other diseases could benefit greatly from this research, especially people with aggressive and hard to treat cancers like mesothelioma.


“Novocure Announces Recipients of 3rd Annual AACR-Novocure Grants for Tumor Treating Fields Research Program” Novocure (July 15, 2021). [Link]

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