As strong advocates for mesothelioma victims and their families, the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at the Law Offices of Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler continually try to stay well-informed of the latest news and research regarding new methods of treatment that could benefit patients suffering from mesothelioma. In a previous blog, we provided information about a biopharmaceutical company named Verastem, Inc. that was recently awarded orphan drug status in Europe for its drug, defactinib, also known as VS-6063. Verastem’s defactinib has since received orphan drug status in the United States. Our mesothelioma attorneys are pleased to follow up with the news that a clinical study is now underway using defactinib as a treatment for patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Verastem is unique in their approach to treating mesothelioma in that they focus on developing drugs that attack and kill cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells have been cited as a cause of tumor resistance, recurrence and disease progression. Cancer stem cells rely on signaling pathways that enable the cancerous cells to not only survive, but to grow and multiply. Defactinib or VS-6063 is an oral compound that has been found to be an effective inhibitor of a specific signaling pathway known as focal adhesion kinase (FAK). By blocking this critical pathway, the cycle of cell growth and proliferation can be altered, thereby affecting the mesothelioma tumor growth and disease progression.
Verastem’s new clinical trial will focus primarily on defactinib’s effect on progression-free survival rates as well as overall survival rates. The phase 2 study is being operated under the name COMMAND, which is an acronym for Control Of Mesothelioma with Maintenance Defactinib. The clinical trial is expected to have 350-400 patients enrolled at various institutions in 11 countries spreading across 5 continents, including the United States, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. All of the participants enrolled need to have a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma as well as a history of receiving treatment for the disease with the chemotherapy agents platinum/premetrexed. In addition, patients must have shown a partial response or stabilization of their disease after this first line treatment.
Study participants will be sorted into groups based on the presence of a specific protein biomarker called merlin. Previous research has shown that lower levels of merlin are associated with better clinical outcomes for mesothelioma patients when being treated with a focal adhesion kinase inhibitor such as defactinib. The eligible participants will then be further divided into randomized groups in which one group will receive a placebo and the other group will be administered an oral dose of defactinib twice a day. An initial update on study results is expected in early 2014. If the study shows promising results, Verastem plans to begin the drug approval process sooner rather than later.
Our mesothelioma attorneys understand that there is a critical need for new and innovative treatments for mesothelioma as it is considered one of the most aggressive and fatal cancers in the world. There is presently no cure and very few treatment options, so the results of this clinical trial could be extremely significant for the mesothelioma community. Patients suffering from this dreadful disease are hopeful that defactinib will be the drug that will ultimately make a difference in their lives. Our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers are hoping for positive outcomes and will continue to follow the success of defactinib as a treatment for mesothelioma.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or any other asbestos-related disease, we encourage you to contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at the law firm of Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our law offices are conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia allowing us to serve clients in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Contact us online or call us today at 1-800-369-0899 to schedule a free consultation with a qualified mesothelioma lawyer.