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New medication provides promising advancement in healing asbestos-related cancer.

New medication provides promising advancement in healing asbestos-related cancer.

Researchers have created a medication for the treatment of mesothelioma, a type of cancer associated with asbestos that has been difficult to treat. This is considered the most significant advancement in the field in the past 20 years.

Each year, a large number of individuals are identified with this illness around the world. The condition typically affects the lungs and is primarily due to exposure to asbestos in the workplace. It is a highly aggressive and fatal disease, with one of the lowest cancer survival rates globally.

Scientists are celebrating the arrival of a new therapy that is being hailed as “truly wonderful.” They believe it will bring renewed hope to those suffering from the disease and their loved ones.

A new medication, discovered by Queen Mary University of London in a multinational study across five countries, showed a four-fold increase in three-year survival rates by blocking the cancerous growth’s source of nutrients. The findings were released in JAMA Oncology.

A patient who received the drug as part of a trial for mesothelioma shared, “This experience has greatly improved our lives and extended our lifespan.” The individual, who is 80 years old and prefers to remain unnamed, received compensation from their previous employer after being exposed to asbestos while working in a factory during the 1970s.

Although he was initially given a prognosis of only four months to live, he is still alive after five years due to the trial. “I now have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on all that,” he stated.

According to experts, this discovery is noteworthy as mesothelioma has a very poor survival rate compared to other types of cancer. The recently developed drug, ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase), is the first of its kind to effectively work alongside chemotherapy in the past two decades.

Prof Peter Szlosarek from Queen Mary led a trial that included patients from the UK, US, Australia, Italy, and Taiwan. The patients underwent chemotherapy every three weeks for a maximum of six cycles. Half of the patients received injections of a new drug, while the other half were given a placebo for a duration of two years.

The final analysis included 249 individuals with pleural mesothelioma, a condition that affects the lung lining. Their average age was 70.

The ATOMIC-meso trial, which took place between 2017 and 2021 at 43 centers in five countries, found that individuals who received pegargiminase and chemotherapy had an average survival time of 9.3 months, while those who received the placebo and chemotherapy had an average survival time of 7.7 months. These results were published in JAMA Oncology.

The mean duration of “progression-free survival” was 6.2 months for those receiving pegargiminase-chemotherapy, while it was 5.6 months for patients who received the placebo and chemotherapy.

The authors stated that in a critical phase 3 study involving 249 individuals with pleural mesothelioma, pegargiminase-chemotherapy showed a significant increase in median overall survival by 1.6 months and quadrupled survival at 36 months compared to placebo-chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy using Pegargiminase was well tolerated and showed no new safety concerns.

After conducting research for 20 years, Szlosarek has made a significant discovery. He found that mesothelioma cells do not have a specific protein called ASS1, which is responsible for producing the amino acid arginine. This lack of protein has been identified as a key factor in the development of mesothelioma.

This information was utilized in creating the medication. ADI-PEG20 functions by reducing the amount of arginine in the blood. For cancer cells that are unable to produce their own arginine, this hinders their growth.

Szlosarek expressed his joy at the progress made in studying how cancer cells are affected by a lack of arginine. He has been leading this research since its early stages in the laboratory and is thrilled to see it leading to the development of a new treatment, ADI-PEG20, which is already positively impacting patients with mesothelioma.

Dr. Tayyaba Jiwani, who received funding for the research from Cancer Research UK and the biotechnology company Polaris Group, stated that the findings demonstrate the effectiveness of discovery research in uncovering vulnerabilities in mesothelioma’s biology that can be targeted with ADI-PEG20.

Liz Darlison, chief executive of the charity Mesothelioma UK, said: “The UK mesothelioma community, including doctors, nurses, patients and families living with mesothelioma, are extremely proud of ATOMIC. It offers another much-needed treatment option and, above all, hope to those living with mesothelioma.

We anticipate that this treatment will become a common choice for all patients in the future.

Source: theguardian.com