Phase II Trial for New Mesothelioma Treatment Opens to Patients

Illustration of mesothelioma research

Editors Note: Due to the passing of Dr. David Sigarbaker, The Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine is now run by Dr. Bryan Burt.

A new mesothelioma trial at Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center in Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is now open to patients. This clinical study is researching an investigational drug in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. These patients must have either started chemotherapy or their cancer has progressed since their initial chemo treatment.

This is a Phase II clinical study focused on the safety and effectiveness of a commonly used medication, versus a new investigational drug, called anetumab ravtansine.

The purpose of a Phase II trial is to determine the effectiveness of a research treatment after safety has been evaluated in a Phase I trial. Patients are closely observed for an anticancer effect by careful measurement of cancer sites present at the beginning of the trial. In addition to monitoring patients for response, any side effects are carefully recorded and assessed.

Two hundred and ten patients will be randomized and receive either the new drug every three weeks or vinorelbine weekly. The new drug works by binding to mesothelin, a protein, which is on the surface of cancer cells. It then releases chemo into the tumor in hopes of halting or shrinking the tumor’s growth.

“The disease is particularly challenging because by the time it’s detected, often 20 to 40 years after exposure to the cancer-causing asbestos, the disease can be very advanced,” said Professor of Surgery, Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, and Director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and Lung Institute at Baylor, Dr. David Sugarbaker.

Dr. Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

He is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts in the diagnosis and treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The majority of his clinical and laboratory research has centered on the development of what has been termed a “tri-model” therapeutic approach to the treatment of diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma.

This three-pronged method uses a combination of radical surgery, chemo, and radiation therapy to treat patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and malignant cancer caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma tumors form in the pleura, a thin membrane of cells that line the lungs and chest wall. Its most common cause is exposure to asbestos.

“Currently, available treatment options are limited for patients whose mesothelioma has progressed or does not respond after initial anticancer treatment, so clinical research is highly important in helping advance our understanding of how to treat it,” said Dr. Sugarbaker.

If you’re interested in participating in the study, review the eligibility criteria. Or contact the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine at or at 713.798.6376 for more details.