Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma and Onconase

Mesothelioma is one of a number of serious illnesses that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It is one of the most complicated and difficult diseases to treat, with the highest degree of success occurring in those patients who receive an early diagnosis.

One of the new medicines that is creating a stir in the medical treatment of mesothelioma is Onconase, which is also known as Ranpirnase and P-30 protein. This particular type of medication is made from the eggs and early embryonic stem cells of the northern leopard frog. It is an enzyme that works with another enzyme to breakdown RNA. When the RNA is broken down, cancerous cells are unable to replicate themselves.

Benefits of Onconase

To date, several studies have shown that Onconase can be used to kill mesothelioma cancer cells while sparing normal cells throughout the body. Healthy cells are generally ignored by Onconase while it targets cells that have some sort of modification. The research indicates that this specificity results from Onconase reading of cell surface receptors.

Healthy cells have protectors that prevent Onconase from attaching and creating the RNA breakdown that it causes on cancerous cells. It also appears that Onconase significantly reduces the amount of chemotherapy needed to kill the cancer. As a result, it reduces or eliminates the side effects for patients undergoing treatment.

Testing Onconase

Researchers at Columbia University conducted the first clinical trial that tested Onconase. The trial's coordinator, Dr. Robert Taub, performed a two-phase study involving 105 patients who had advanced mesothelioma that had metastasized. During the clinical trial, Onconase was given to patients through an IV for 30 minutes a week.The average survival time for these patients was nearly six months, and some patients achieved one and two-year survival rates.

Because the results were so encouraging, a Phase III clinical trial of Onconase was conducted with a comparison of Doxorubicin in patients who had malignant mesothelioma that had advanced beyond the point of surgical removal of tumors. The results of the trial showed that Onconase was at least as effective as the other drug, and maybe more effective. An additional study published in the January 1, 2002 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, clear anti-tumor activity was seen in six of the 81 patients and an additional 35 patients had cessation of growth in previously growing mesothelioma.

Currently, the only way to receive Onconase is through the enrollment of a clinical trial. Mesothelioma patients who are interested should ask their doctor if they are potential candidates for Onconase clinical trials. As of late January 2009, the FDA has recommended an additional clinical trial using Onconase as a treatment for patients who have already undergone chemotherapy. A successful result on this trial would fill a medical need that no other currently available drug can provide.

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