Tumour treating fields Device for mesothelioma

 By Warren Miller.   17th April 2020

Optune Lua, formerly known as NovoTTF-100L, was created by Novocure and is the first FDA approved treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma in over 15 years.

FDA - the Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the control and supervision of pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, medical devices as well as a variety of other fields.

Optune Lua Mesothelioma

Novocure is an oncology company that works to extend survival from malignant pleural mesothelioma and other aggressive forms of cancer. It uses an innovative treatment therapy known as Tumour Treating Fields.

Optune Lua delivers Tumour Treating Fields to the region of the tumour. This stops the growth of the mesothelioma tumours by using electric fields tuned to specific frequencies to disrupt the division of cells.

This causes the cancer cells to die while causing minimal damage to surrounding healthy cells.

Patients may wear the device, which sticks directly to the chest, for at least 18 hours a day. The electrical charges from this non-invasive treatment are barely felt and the device even works while patients are asleep. The FDA’s approval is explicitly for patients who are not eligible for surgery and the can only be used along with mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments - typically Pemetrexed and Cisplatin.

Recent studies have shown that the device controlled the disease of 97% of the patients - ie the mesothelioma tumours either shrunk in size or did not spread. Of the 80 patients studied, the average overall survival was 18 months, with around 62% of them living for at least one year after starting the treatment.

Coronavirus implications for the treatment

Novocure says that the manufacturing of the device can keep pace with demand in-spite of issues for many cancer products due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the supply chain for many products. But in a statement last week, the company stated the tumour treating fields devices for mesothelioma would not be one of them.

Tumour treating fields for mesothelioma is new to patients and consultants, so the company does provide support and guidance on how to use the Optune Lua devices. Face to face guidance is not possible due to social distancing, but web-based technology can connect patients with other mesothelioma patients who have used Optune Lua.

Novocure’s Tumour Treating fields delivery systems are not exclusive to the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Other types of cancer may be treated by similar Tumor Treating Fields delivery systems.

As most victims of asbestos diseases are focused on the Coronavirus pandemic, this press release from Novocure is a welcome reminder that Mesothelioma patients have an increasing variety of treatment options and are surviving at promising rates.
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