A new drug to treat mesothelioma has been given “orphan drug status” by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Orphan drug status encourages pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs which might otherwise lack a sufficient profit motive to treat rare medical conditions.
The new stem-cell targeting cancer drug “VS-5584” seeks to target cancer at its source by inhibiting the cancer stem-cell signalling pathways that allow the disease to survive and proliferate.
Cancer stem cells allow communication between cells to enable mesothelioma to spread throughout the body and generate new tumours. Killing these cells holds the potential to produce a significant clinical response.
VS-5584 is currently being tested by American biopharmaceutical company Verastem Inc, on American and British mesothelioma patients in two clinical trials.
A Phase 1 clinical trial is evaluating the effectiveness of VS-5584 in combination with another experimental cancer drug VS-6063, while a second Phase I clinical trial is examining how VS-5584 targets advanced mesothelioma tumours.
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive asbestos-related cancer that targets the lining of the heart, lungs and abdomen. The incidence of the disease is increasing worldwide, having increased almost five-fold since the late 1970s in the UK alone.
Patients with mesothelioma - which is resistant to chemotherapy - have very few treatment options. We desperately need more as nearly all treatment currently is aimed at simply keeping symptoms in check and controlling the disease for as long as possible.
Mesothelioma brings heartache to thousands of families across the UK every year. Hopefully this new drug will offer hope to sufferers and help improve the available treatment options for patients who have just recently been diagnosed with this most devastating disease.
Dominic Smith who works in the Asbestos and Mesothelioma Team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon are one of the UK's leading experts in Mesothelioma compensation, we have offices in England, Scotland and Wales, and offer home or hospital visits for people who cannot attend our offices.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have more than 1,450 staff and 18 offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.