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Phase II Clinical Trial Stabilizes Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patients

Man in laboratoryMesothelioma, a rare cancer with just 3,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, is under-represented in the medical community. Peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the abdomen, is even rarer, representing just ten percent of all mesothelioma patients. Now, the disease is receiving some much-needed attention with several recent studies pointing to successful treatments.

In a Phase II clinical trial from the University of Chicago, researchers set out to determine how well ARQ 197, or tivantinib, works for patients with previously treated malignant mesothelioma. The expectation is that tivantinib will block some of the enzymes needed for cell growth, thus, halting the growth of the tumor cells.

ARQ 197, developed by ArQule, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company with a goal to address major unmet medical needs in oncology, is a selective inhibitor of the c-MET receptor tyrosine kinase. c-Met plays multiple roles in cancer cell proliferation, tumor spread, new blood vessel formation and drug resistance, according to ArQule, making it a “promising target” for cancer treatment. The drug is being tested in multiple clinical trials including studies for use in kidney and head and neck cancers.

The trial of 18 patients with either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma resulted in a close to 45% stable disease, of more than nine months, in the peritoneal group. Although the researchers had hoped to see similar positive results in both types of mesothelioma, they do report the drug warrants further testing.

“Alternative biomarkers predictive of the activity of ARQ 197 in PER MM pts [peritoneal malignant mesothelioma patients] should be evaluated,” concluded the researchers. The team hopes to uncover other biomarkers that react to the treatment.

Mesothelioma is a unique, aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a form of the cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen. All forms of the asbestos-caused cancer are difficult to treat. There is no cure for the disease.

Hedy Kindler, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, is principal investigator of the trial. Kindler is Professor of Medicine, Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Oncology, and Director of the Mesothelioma Program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Kindler is internationally known for her research on therapies that target the unique biology of mesothelioma.

The University of Chicago’s Mesothelioma Program has been “a pioneer in the treatment and research of malignant mesothelioma” for over 25 years. With a goal “to identify and develop treatment regimens to improve the quality of our patients’ lives and to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-threatening disease,” the mesothelioma program is one of the largest in the U.S.

A Phase I international clinical trial, still in the recruitment phase, is being conducted by Italian researchers to test the safety and effectiveness of ARQ 197 when administered in combination with carboplatin and pemetrexed as first-line treatment in non-small cell lung cancer or in pleural mesothelioma patients. To find out more about this trial see “Study of the Combination of Tivantinib Plus Pemetrexed and Carboplatin” at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Find out more about the ARQ 197 mesothelioma clinical trial at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Read about the Ki67 biomarker shown to be an indicator for survival in peritoneal mesothelioma.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 7 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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