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New mesothelioma drug trial shows promise

If you are battling mesothelioma, you already understand the lousy odds you're playing against. For many mesothelioma patients, their only hope is to find a clinical trial to accept them on some new cancer-fighting drug program.

Deciding to participate in clinical studies is a major decision. It's important to discuss the matter with your oncologist and support circle.

There is a clinical trial right now that's sponsored by the University of Chicago for patients with malignant mesothelioma using the drug pembrolizumab.

It's a phase II trial studying how effective it is for patients with malignancies in the abdomen or lungs. The drug itself is a monoclonal antibody that blocks a certain protein known as programmed cell death 1, or PD-1. It's hypothesized that this drug can stimulate immune responses that will kill the malignant cells.

Researchers hope that the study will allow them to predict the patient response using the drug at specific levels and develop the optimal threshold for it to work.

Patients will receive an IV containing the medication for a half hour on the first day. Their treatment repeats every three weeks up to two years if there is no toxicity and the disease doesn't progress. The patients who respond favorably could be eligible for another year of additional drug therapy if their condition progresses after they stop the medication.

Patients have to be at least 18 years of age, and of either gender. Women who can bear children must show negative results for a pregnancy test within the three days prior to starting the clinical trial. They must agree to use two different types of birth control or refrain from heterosexual activities with a partner during the trial and post-120 days. Men have to also agree to use adequate contraception methods for the same time frame.

If you think you might qualify, let your doctor know that you are interested. Working closely with both your oncologist and the attorney handling your mesothelioma claim can ensure that you hear about the most promising new clinical trials of cancer-fighting drugs.

Source: clinical trials.gov, "Pembrolizumab in Treating Patients With Malignant Mesothelioma," University of Chicago, accessed Sep. 02, 2016

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