‘Wonder’ drug to treat aggressive form of lung cancer promises hope, ET HealthWorld


London: A new drug that can increase survival rates and average survival of cancer patients! Seems futuristic, right? Well, researchers at the Queen Mary University London have found a new drug that can work against a difficult-to-treat and aggressive form of cancer, mesothelioma. The findings of the study have been published in JAMA Oncology.

Mesothelioma cancer is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells lining the body’s internal organs, most commonly the lungs and chest wall. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, often occurring in occupational settings such as construction, mining, and manufacturing. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss, with diagnosis often occurring at advanced stages due to the disease’s long latency period. Treatment options typically involve a multidisciplinary approach, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, though prognosis remains generally poor due to the disease’s aggressive nature and limited treatment effectiveness.

The drug will be a saviour to those who are suffering from asbetos-linked cancer. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral once widely used in construction and industrial applications, can lead to cancer when its fibers are inhaled or ingested, embedding themselves in the body’s tissues and causing inflammation and cellular damage over time. Despite regulations limiting asbestos use, cases of asbestos-related cancer continue to arise due to past exposure.

Mesothelioma has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer.

How does it work?

The new drug, ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase), is the first to be successfully combined with chemotherapy in 20 years. “Arginine deprivation with pegargiminase is a novel cancer chemotherapy that improves survival in patients with nonepithelioid pleural mesothelioma and warrants additional studies in arginine-dependent cancers with poor survival outcomes,” the researchers have said. The newly developed drug cuts off the food supply to the tumor and stop their progress.

For the trial, known as ATOMIC-meso trial, a total of 249 patients from the UK, US, Australia, Italy and Taiwan were included. Each patient received chemotherapy every three weeks for up to six cycles. While half of them were also given injections of new drug, the other half received a placebo.

“In this pivotal, randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial in 249 patients with pleural mesothelioma, pegargiminase-chemotherapy increased significantly the median overall survival by 1.6 months and quadrupled the survival at 36 months compared to placebo-chemotherapy. Pegargiminase-based chemotherapy was well tolerated with no new safety signals,” the authors wrote.

  • Published On Feb 17, 2024 at 02:53 PM IST

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