Astra Zeneca has been doing phase II clinical trials on the drug Cediranib for the treatment of Mesothelioma. Unfortunately, researchers have not gotten the results they were hoping for. Not only did the oral cancer drug not pass this phase as far as results related to treating the cancer, it also produced severe side effects and was not tolerated well by patients who took the drug.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fast moving cancer. This malignant cancer starts in the mesothelium (tissue sack that lines almost all human organs) and moves quickly throughout the body. Often times, the prognosis for Mesothelioma is not good. This cancer is believed to be caused by Asbestos exposure. Thus, the use, mining, and removal of Asbestos have gotten much less prevalent over the past several years. In the United States alone, this disease ends in death for over 2,500 people each and every year.
Extensive research and studies have been done to determine how this cancer moves, what causes it to be so aggressive, and what slows it down. Researchers have found that there are certain protein markers that give doctors an indication of the progression of the disease, which in turn helps them to determine the best route of treatment.
One particular protein, VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), is a good indicator of fast progression of the cancer. This particular serum protein signals the growth of these fast moving cancer cells, and indicates a decreased chance of survival.
Recently, scientists at the University of Chicago conducted phase II trials of the drug Cediranib in 51 patients in 9 different testing centers. The patients tested had inoperable malignant Mesothelioma and had undergone some level of Chemotherapy. The results of the trial were not good for participants.
Only 15 percent of the patients survived after one year of treatment. The median progression rate was only 1.8 months, and the average survival rate was 4 months. Researchers also found that higher dosages of 45 mg, which was more adequate to fight the cancer, caused severe side effects and was intolerable for patients. Thus, in most cases, the dosage was scaled back to 30mg.
Some of the drug side effects included hypertension, fatigue, angioedema, and pulmonary embolism. The drug also caused reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy, which has its own host of horrible side effects including vision loss, seizures, confusion, and headaches.
In the case of the drug Cediranib for the treatment of malignant Mesothelioma, phase II trials have shown that drug is not as useful in treating the condition as scientists, physicians, and Astra Zeneca had hoped.