A clinical trial has dosed its first mesothelioma patient to examine the effectiveness of a new drug on attacking cancerous proteins.

Curis, Inc., a biotechnology company researching new cancer treatments, is administering doses of CA-170 to patients with advanced mesothelioma tumors. The oral medication is a checkpoint antagonist of PD-L1, PD-L2 and VISTA, all of which are proteins common for pleural mesothelioma patients with epithelioid histology.


How Does CA-170 Work?

CA-170 is a form of mesothelioma immunotherapy, which involves improving the body’s natural ability to fight cancer. When cancer forms, the body’s immune system becomes vulnerable. Cancer cells produce proteins that suppress immune system activators.

When these activators are suppressed, the immune system does not naturally prevent cancerous cells from multiplying. The disease then spreads to other areas of the body.

Curis, Inc. is testing whether CA-170 effectively targets the proteins that affect the immune system, thus helping the body prevent the spreading of cancerous cells along with additional infections.

The proteins are associated with epithelioid cells, which is the most common type of mesothelioma cells. According to the website Immuno-Oncology News, more than 90% of mesothelioma cells include VISTA, which is why medical experts are testing drugs to find a combatant to the protein. CA-170 is the only VISTA antagonist currently in clinical trial.


What to Expect from the Clinical Trial

The study is currently in Phase 1, which involves testing on up to 300 patients with an advanced tumor who have not had success with approved cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation.

Update: According to the clinical trial page, the actual enrollment was 71 as of June 26, 2020.

According to the clinical trial’s detail page on the United States National Library of Medicine website, the first part of Phase 1 involves a once- or twice-daily dosage schedule at escalating amounts, which will help experts determine the safest dose during future phases.

The initial stage involves all participants, regardless of the type of cancer. The second half of Phase 1 consists of testing the selected dose on mesothelioma patients and others who have tumors mainly associated with the PD-L1, PD-L2 and VISTA proteins.

When Curis Inc. begins Phase 2, the study’s experts hope to know the safest maximum dose of CA-170, possible side effects of the drug and whether the medication has any impact on the tumor.

The trial started in May 2016 and is expected to conclude in January 2020. Testing is taking place in the United States, Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom. The U.S. locations still recruiting participants are:

  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai (New York City)
  • Karmanos Cancer Institute (Detroit, Michigan)
  • University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer for which there are limited treatments. Patients can participate in clinical trials to receive treatment options not readily available otherwise. Additionally, participating patients can become an essential part of breakthrough research to improving the prognosis for survival.

For more information on the CA-170 trial, including whether you can participate, email our registered nurse advocate, Karen Ritter, at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com. To learn about other clinical trials for mesothelioma, including how to join, visit the Mesothelioma Guide clinical trial database.

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.