Research conducted in clinical trials offers the best hope for finding a cure for mesothelioma. For some Hawai‘i patients, clinical trials also offer a superior standard of care, and access to the latest and most encouraging treatment options. We encourage you to seriously consider participating in a clinical trial if you are eligible.
Clinical trials are human studies designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and medical treatments. In the case of cancer and mesothelioma patients, clinical trials are usually conducted to evaluate promising new treatments.
How Does a Trial Work?
Clinical trials to test new treatments are usually divided into four phases. Researchers usually start by testing new treatments on cells in a laboratory, then on animals, then finally progressing to studies in humans. Before any drug or treatment is tested on human volunteers, it is first tested in the laboratory. In the United States, all new drugs must go through three phases of clinical trials before they are approved for general use. These are carefully controlled studies conducted with human volunteers. Every clinical trial has a different set of requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible to take part in the trial.
The researchers who are conducting the trials carefully evaluate the new drugs and treatments for safety, clinical effectiveness, and pharmacological effects such as side effects and interactions. The results are compared to current standard treatments.
Current Clinical Trials
Many of the clinical trials for mesothelioma involve new combinations of traditional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical treatments. However, there are also trials of newer drugs and other novel therapies. These newer drugs are designed to target the tumor cells alone, without destroying the healthy cells. Some of these new treatments include inhibitors, such as enzyme inhibitors, tumor cell surface receptor inhibitors, growth factor receptor inhibitors, proteasome inhibitors, and kinase inhibitors. Other therapies include gene therapy, biological therapy, immune therapy, and antibody therapies.
There are currently a number of trials of these newer therapies, as well as trials of the newer therapies in combination with chemotherapy and one trial with radiation therapy. Some of the research to support these clinical trials is happening right here in Honolulu, at the Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i. There is definitely a need for new therapies for the treatment of mesothelioma.
We strongly urge you to discuss the subject of clinical trials with your oncologist. There are many benefits to enrolling in a clinical trial: You will receive excellent care; many patients feel better and their quality of life is enhanced; there are cases where the disease process stabilizes or even goes into remission; and clinical trials offer the single most important means for developing new and better treatments for this disease, and for making strides toward the day when we will see a cure.
For the most current list of clinical trials offered for mesothelioma, check the National Institute of Health’s website at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=mesothelioma.