The first patient has been enrolled in a new trial studying the effects of an immunotherapy drug called amatuximab. The goal of the trial is to see if amatuximab can be effective at improving the overall survival rate of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. Overall survival measures how long a patient lives after their treatment.

In a previous trial, amatuximab was able to slightly increase the average overall survival for mesothelioma patients. Now researchers are testing again to see if they can improve those past results by adjusting the dosages.

Amatuximab was developed and is being studied by Morphotek, Inc. Morphotek develops new and innovative biopharmaceuticals. One of their main focuses is producing new treatments that use the immune system to battle cancer.

About the Amatuximab Clinical Trial

The amatuximab clinical trial is randomized, double-blind, and placebo controlled. The patients will all receive Alimta and cisplatin, the standard chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma, for four to six cycles. After chemotherapy, all patients will receive maintenance therapy of either amatuximab or a placebo. They will both be administered through an IV once a week for six 21-day cycles.

Although the main goal is to monitor the overall survival for mesothelioma patients, the trial will also keep track of other important factors such as safety, quality of life, disease control, and progression-free survival. Progression-free survival is the amount of time after treatment that a patient’s mesothelioma stops getting significantly worse.

Morphotek expects to enroll 560 patients in the trial. The trial takes place in locations throughout the United States as well as Australia and Europe.

Successes and Failures in a Previous Trial

In a previous trial, researchers focused on testing amatuximab for its ability to improve progression-free survival. The earlier trial was a single-arm study, meaning that they had no control group. Without a control group, researchers can only compare their results to previous statistics.

Unfortunately, the results of this previous trial showed no significant difference in progression-free survival for patients taking amatuximab compared to historical controls. However, the good news was that the group who took amatuximab had a higher overall survival rate. While the historical control median survival time was 13.3 months, patients in the study had a median overall survival rate of 14.8 months.

In the new trial, the researchers have adjusted the doses to administer the drug more frequently than before. The hope is that this will improve survival by a more significant amount than in the previous trial.

How Amatuximab Targets Harmful Antigens

Immunotherapies focus on antigens. An antigen is anything that the body has an immune response to. In the case of amatuximab, the antigen in the crosshairs is mesothelin.

Mesothelin is found naturally in the mesothelial cells that make up the linings of our lungs, abdomen, and heart. Research has shown that mesothelin is found in much higher quantities in patients with epithelial mesothelioma. Researchers also believe that mesothelin is involved in the spread of tumors.

Amatuximab is an antibody, which means that its main goal is to bind to antigens like mesothelin and render them inactive. By using amatuximab to stop mesothelin, doctors could help slow down the spread of cancer in mesothelioma patients.

Morphotek and its researchers hope that taking amatuximab could provide longer and healthier lives to mesothelioma patients. If you are interested in participating in this clinical trial or any others, contact our patient advocates at 1-888-385-2024.

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    About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

    Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.