Three different studies that recently appeared in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology give mixed messages about the effectiveness of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy treatments for Mesothelioma. The first study was specifically designed to assist physicians with determining which patients would best respond to this type of chemotherapy. Since pemetrexed therapy works by preventing cancer cells from producing the enzyme TS (thymidylate synthase), scientists were able to determine by measuring TS levels, which patients were not responding well to this type of chemotherapy. This discovery will allow oncologists to monitor the effectiveness of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy for Mesothelioma patients, and make changes in treatment for those not responding well, based on TS levels.
This same study also helped researchers confirm that when pemetrexed is converted into FPGS (folylpoly-y-glutamate synthetase) it seems to be more effective for many Mesothelioma patients. The research study results showed that patients with Mesothelioma who had higher levels of FPGS responded better to the treatment. Researchers concluded that these results warranted more research on the using these levels as indicators of the effectiveness of this type of treatment for Mesothelioma patients.
Australian researchers published information on a phase II study that suggests that sunitinib, an oral chemo drug, may be a viable option for some Mesothelioma patients. It was noted that currently there is no standard second-line treatment for Mesothelioma, but this oral chemotherapy drug may be a good choice for some groups of patients. In this study, 51 patients took two separate cycles of the oral drug sunitinib between July of 2006 and December of 2009. Six of the patients (12%) showed some response to the oral medication, and 34 of the patients(65%) stabilized. The research team concluded that the results were note worthy, and additional studies should be done in regards to using sunitinib as a second-line treatment option in patients with Pleural Mesothelioma.
The 3rd study published in this journal looked at the drug bortezomib for the treatment of Mesothelioma. Only about 23 patients responded to the drug in both first-line and second-line treatment trials. It was reported that one patient stabilized. However, most all of the participants saw disease progression during the first two cycles of receiving the drug bortezomib. The preclinical tests for the drug bortezomib looked somewhat promising. However, considering the results of the Phase II trials, the research team concluded that these results were not sufficient enough to warrant any further investigation and bortezomib did not seem to be a good treatment option for Mesothelioma patients.