The success of a recent Phase II clinical trial in malignant pleural mesothelioma has scientists and researchers excited about the possibility of adding a new treatment that will not only improve survival, but also improve quality of life of the cancer patient. Tumor Treating Fields, which is a therapy that uses alternating electric fields to disrupt tumor growth, was used in the STELLAR Phase II registration trial in mesothelioma after it was found successful in other hard-to-treat- cancers such as glioblastoma.
Tumor Treating Fields is a therapy developed by Novocure, an oncology company that specializes in treating solid tumors. Founded in 2000, Novocure began as an idea in a basement laboratory where a biophysics and physiology professor wanted to develop a new way of treating cancer that targeted only the cancer cells. By exploring the potential of electric fields as treatment, he was able to develop Tumor Treating Fields. Two years later, Novocure was established. Tumor Treating Fields uses electric fields, which alternate at different frequencies. These frequencies are then applied to the tumor to help attack and disrupt tumor growth, without harming the surrounding healthy tissue.
This study investigated 80 unresectable pleural mesothelioma patients who were treated with either a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed or carboplatin (the standard chemotherapy for mesothelioma patients), and also Tumor Treating Fields. Results were then compared to those who only received chemotherapy. Patients who received the combination of chemotherapy and the electricity based treatment experienced an average progression-free survival of 7.6 months, compared to those in the control group which was only 5.7 months. In 40.3 percent of patients, a partial response to the treatment was detected and in 97.2 percent of patients, a partial response or stabilization of the disease was noted.
These promising results of the Phase II clinical trial suggest that a new treatment option could well be underway for those suffering from mesothelioma. Since Tumor Treating Fields has already been approved by the FDA in other types of cancer, researchers are hopeful that their finding in the STELLAR Phase II clinical trial will lead to an FDA approval as well. Results from this study well be presented at the IASLC 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer on September 25, 2018 in Toronto. If approved, the study will enter Phase III of the clinical trial process which is designed to compare promising new drugs to the standard care of treatment. If all goes well, Tumor Treating Fields will either be designated as a new treatment, or replace the current standard.
“Novocure’s Tumor Treating Fields Device Succeeds in Phase II Trial In Pleural Mesothelioma,” Compelo Medical Devices (September 7,2018). [Link]