In November 2012 the Science Codex web site posted this article of interest, “Mesothelioma drug slows disease progression in patients with an inactive NF2 gene”.
This article is significant because it reported that preliminary findings from the first trial of a new drug currently known as GSK2256098 intended for patients with malignant mesothelioma show that this experimental treatment has had some apparent success in preventing the spread of mesothelioma in certain patients, specifically those lacking an active tumor suppressor gene called NF2.
These study findings were presented at the 24th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin, Ireland, on November 8, 2012.
Here are some of the important points from this article:
Mesothelioma, which is usually caused by exposure to asbestos, has few treatment options and patients usually die within 9-17 months of diagnosis. Previous research has shown that the gene NF2, which produces a protein called merlin, is frequently inactivated in approximately 50% of mesotheliomas. Merlin negatively regulates another protein called focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in mesothelioma, and so when NF2 and merlin are inactivated, the activity of FAK is increased and mesothelioma cells become invasive and start to spread. When NF2 and merlin activity is restored, FAK activity and cell invasion are decreased.
Professor Jean-Charles Soria, Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at South Paris University and head of early drug development at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris (France), said: “This suggested that if we could inhibit FAK in mesothelioma patients, it might slow or stop the spread of the disease. Pre-clinical work has shown that an agent, currently known as GSK2256098, is a potent and specific inhibitor of FAK….
However, in patients in whom merlin was inactivated, the average time before the disease progressed was 24 weeks, compared to 11 weeks in patients with active merlin and nearly 11 weeks in patients in whom the activity of merlin was unknown….
“These findings are important but preliminary,” said Prof Soria. “They show that merlin is a potential biomarker in mesothelioma that may enable us to identify a subset of patients who could benefit from GSK2256098 and have longer, progression-free survival. Mesothelioma is a deadly disease without many treatment options, and therefore identification of novel and effective therapies is needed.”
We will watch for further study findings as regards this new mesothelioma drug GSK2256098 as well as other experimental mesothelioma treatments.
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