Helping you take care of your family

New Chemo Drugs Have Some Promise For Treatment of Mesothelioma

Recent studies tested two different drugs to see if combining them with common Mesothelioma treatments will help with the long term outcome of the treatment plan. The first study, which took place at the Medical Center at the University of Texas, added bevacizumab to the typical cisplatin/pemetrexed  treatment of 52 patients who were unable to undergo surgery due to the stage of the Mesothelioma at the time of the study.

Over half of the study participants (56 percent) had a positive outcome of survival without complications after 6 months. However, the 33 percent overall improvement that researchers desired to see did not occur. Many test participants had serious toxicity complications including high blood pressure, decreased white blood cells, and blood clots. Thus, the overall consensus by this team of researchers was that the benefits did not outweigh the risk. This did not seem to be a great addition to treatment for most of the study participants.

The second study, which took place in Egypt, looked at a very small sample group of patients. These patients were given Methotrexate directly into the pleural space that surrounds the lungs. This drug was able to be administered in high quantities due to the fact that it was placed in the pleural space versus being used systemically. The outcome was positive, as the common toxicities associated with the drug were not present because of the method of administration.

Although this was a small study, where only 5 patients were tested, the outcome was positive. Each of the 5 patients received 3 cycles of Methotrexate, which was directly infused into the pleural cavity. Each time a new cycle was given, the amount and strength of the drug was increased. Methotrexate levels were measured daily in the blood serum and pleural cavity fluid.

The study showed that even at extremely high dosage levels, grade II toxicities were not found. This is attributed to the fact that the drug was infused directly into the pleural cavity. This method allowed the medication to target the Mesothelioma cells directly, in a much higher concentration than could be used systemically. In fact, the concentration used in this method was 95 to 3,000 times greater than systemic administration methods, with little to no toxicity complications.

Methotrexate is typically used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and a variety of cancers (lung, uterine, breast, and some blood cancers). However, this small study seems to warrant a larger and more formal study that uses Methotrexate infusions into the pleural cavity to treat Mesothelioma.