Mesothelioma Pill shows promise in Controlling Tumours

 By Kathy Cooke.   12th June 2020

The ASCO conference is one of the most important gatherings of cancer doctors in the USA.

Tazemetostat Mesothelioma Pill

Founded in 1964, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is one of the world's leading organizations for professionals caring for people with cancer.

At the 2020 conference in Chicago in May, doctors researching a new Mesothelioma pill presented research on the drug at a national virtual conference in May.

How does the New Mesothelioma Pill Work?

Research at The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York suggests it can help patients with Mesothelioma cancer live longer. The pill called Tazemetostat (TAZ) blocks the protein EZH2 which inhibits the genes that are supposed to suppress the growth of Mesothelioma tumours.

The pill made by Epizyme in Cambridge, Massachusetts has been approved by The US Food and Drug Administration for patients with epithelioid sarcoma. The Researchers lead by Marjorie Glass Zauderer, MD, MS, FACP hope it will be approved for use in patients with BAP1-deficient relapsed or refractory Mesothelioma cancer.

When patients are first diagnosed with mesothelioma, they are often advised to try chemotherapy with Alimta. For many patients, Alimta does not work or stops working after a while and there are few other options available. The company Epizyme is hoping that the new Tazemetostat pill will help some of these patients.

What were the results of the Tazemetostat Mesothelioma study?

Their Tazemetostat study included 74 mesothelioma patients who had at least 2 other types of treatments before they joined the study. The patients either did not respond to previous mesothelioma treatments or had stopped responding.

  • 95% of patients had a mutation on their BAP-1 gene. Patients with the BAP-1 mutation tend to respond better to the new mesothelioma pill
  • After being treated with Tazemotostat the patients achieved a 12 week control rate of Mesothelioma of 47%
  • There were 2 Mesothelioma patients who had a partial response - one for 21 weeks, the other for more then 15 weeks

There were serious side effects in around 5% of the Mesothelioma patients. Of these, most had shortness of breath and anemia.

Marjorie Glass Zauderer and The research group concluded:

“ Based on disease control rate and stable disease, Tazemetostat showed antitumor activity in patients with BAP1-deficient relapsed or refractory malignant mesothelioma. Tazemetostat monotherapy was generally well-tolerated. The current data support further clinical evaluation of Tazemetostat in these patients. Furthermore, this trial presents an optimal paradigm for drug development in molecularly-enriched cohorts in mesothelioma. ”

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