Chemotherapy is often the first line of attack against mesothelioma, but mesothelioma doctors lament that they don’t have much they can use as a second line of attack.
That could change if the drug nintedanib, now in testing, works as hoped.
Nintedanib has been used by patients in Europe who suffer from a respiratory disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
The symptoms closely resemble those of asbestosis — the non-cancer lung disease that asbestos exposure victims sometimes develop instead of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Clinical Trial of Nintedanib
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration not long ago gave nintedanib status as an orphan drug. That paved the way to begin testing it in America as a potential second-line treatment for mesothelioma.
This testing started in 2013. It’s now in Phase II clinical trials at mesothelioma treatment centers in four U.S. cities: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio.
To be eligible for enrollment in the clinical trial, you must have a confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis and a prognosis of survival beyond three months. Also you must not have had either chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
The clinical trial is also being conducted abroad. The Phase II testing comes to an end in mid-2016.
The interest in nintedanib comes because of reports that combining it with docetaxel appears to extend lung cancer survival by more than two months.
More precisely, the results showed that nintedanib plus docetaxel can push the median lung cancer survival time up from 10.3 to 12.6 month. Approximately 25 percent of patients can expect to survive at least 24 months.
The nintedanib-docetaxel combination was tested in Europe on more than 1,200 patients suffering from adenocarcinoma — the type of lung cancer most people develop. The findings were reported in the British medical journal Lancet earlier this year.
The results were encouraging enough that the European Union’s counterpart to the FDA cut a lot of its normal red tape in order to more quickly approve nintedanib-docetaxel cocktails.
Drug Interferes With Mesothelioma Signal Pathways
Nintedanib is a triple angiokinase inhibitor. It inhibits vascular endothelial, platelet-derived, and fibroblast growth factor receptors.
All three of those are known as signaling pathways. Nintedanib exerts its inhibiting effects on them all at the same time.
“Growing scientific evidence shows that these three different angiokinase receptors play an important role not only in angiogenesis but also in tumour growth and metastasis,” the manufacturer of nintedanib reports.
That company is Boehringer Ingelheim, headquartered in Germany.
Boehringer Ingelheim officials contend that most lung cancer and mesothelioma patients experience disease progression during or after first-line chemotherapy.
As a result, those patients could greatly benefit from effective second-line treatments, such as those embodied by nintedanib.
One of the nice things about nintedanib is it’s an oral medication, which makes it convenient to take.