A new mesothelioma treatment based on the marine-derived drug lurbinectedin showed promising results in a preliminary study in two patients who had previously failed to respond to conventional therapy.
The study, “Combination of cisplatin and lurbinectedin as palliative chemotherapy in progressive malignant pleural mesothelioma: Report of two cases,” was recently published in the journal Lung Cancer.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Patients with the disease face poor prognosis, even with multimodal therapy, a treatment approach for mesothelioma (and other cancers) that combines two or more therapies, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
The standard treatment for patients with mesothelioma is based on a chemotherapy combination that includes pemetrexed (Alimta) and the platinum-based drug cisplatin. But while this treatment approach is the current gold standard for mesothelioma, its efficiency is limited: tumors may continue to grow during chemotherapy or resume growth once therapy is over.
In the study, researchers at Kantonsspital Graubunden in Chur, Switzerland, reported two cases of patients with pleural mesothelioma whose tumors became smaller after being treated with the new drug combination.
Lurbinectedin is an analog of the already approved drug trabectedin, derived from the Caribbean sack-like sea squirt that lives on the sea floor, which is used in treatments for ovarian cancer in Europe and Japan. An analog is a drug that has a chemical structure similar to the approved original drug, and is designed to mimic its pharmacological effects.
The two study patients failed previous treatments with standard chemotherapy. Researchers combined lurbinectedin with cisplatin, a chemotherapy used to treat different types of cancer.
“The combination showed promising activity in both cases with manageable toxicity,” said the study’s lead author, Yannis Metaxas, in a press release.
Results suggest that a lurbinectedin drug combination could be a potential new therapy for mesothelioma patients who fail to respond to current therapies.
“This study should be of interest to mesothelioma patients and families because we know that, unfortunately, many of them will eventually be looking for a second-line mesothelioma treatment,” said Alex Strauss, of Surviving Mesothelioma.