Can New Drug Stop Mesothelioma's Spread? – Blog

Finding a cure for malignant mesothelioma is an international effort, and a drug being tested by Chinese researchers is among the most promising around. Apatinib, also known as Rivoceranib, stops tumors from generating the blood vessels they need to grow and spread. When the drug was tested as a third-line treatment three years ago it successfully extended a woman’s life by five months, and more recent lab tests have demonstrated similar effects.
As is true in other malignancies, mesothelioma tumors grow and spread by generating new blood vessels for nourishment and energy. Vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, is a protein that fuels the blood vessels’ growth, but apatinib inhibits the effects of VEGF, stopping the process. Researchers at Beijing Shijitan Hospital tested the drug on lab animals seeded with peritoneal mesothelioma and found it effectively slowed the blood vessels’ growth with almost no side effects.
Though apatinib was largely developed for use in liver cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and gastric cancers, the researchers were interested in whether it could stop the spread of peritoneal mesothelioma to the liver and spleen. The drug was administered directly into the lab animals’ stomachs to determine whether it would impact how far the cancer would spread. Using a gauge known as the PCI, or peritoneal cancer index they considered it to be extremely effective. 
Writing of their results, study author Zhi-Ran Yang said, “Our results showed that apatinib significantly inhibited the proliferation and migration of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma cells in vitro [in the lab] and induced cell cycle arrest.” The additional evidence of slowed progression gathered from the lab animals, as well as an indication that the drug may have also stimulated the immune system, has encouraged further studies in humans.  “We successfully established MPM PDX models and primary cell lines, and confirmed that apatinib effectively inhibited proliferation and metastasis of MPM in vitro and in vivo study.” 
For those who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or who are at risk for an asbestos-related disease, this type of research is critical. For information on other state-of-the-art treatment options, contact the Patient Advocates at at 1-800-692-8608.
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