The National Cancer Institute is awarding scientists at the University of Pennsylvania $8 million dollars towards a clinical trial on light-based therapy for mesothelioma surgical patients.
University of Pennsylvania researchers report that they will use this grant to enroll 102 pleural mesothelioma study participants over the next four years. Those patients will be given a photosensitizing drug prior to surgery and then 50% of the group will receive laser light treatment during their procedure while the other half will only have follow-up chemotherapy.
“Mesothelioma is a cancer for which there is currently little to no hope for a cure,” said Eli Glatstein, MD, the Principal Investigator of the program project grant, in a University release. “This trial represents a major step in understanding the combination of treatment modalities that will offer patients the best hope for survival and extended remission.”
According to the release:
PDT is known to kill cancer cells, but researchers also seek to understand the patient’s immune response, the tumor microenvironment and the blood vessels in and surrounding the tumor in three additional studies funded under the grant.
The second project will examine the process by which PDT works to destroy tumor cells and look at whether there is an agent—a drug or other therapy—that can boost its effects.
The third project will look at whether certain pathways roused during surgery may play a key role in inflammation and cell growth and thus contribute to treatment failure in any way, and whether inhibiting these pathways will improve the efficacy of intraoperative PDT.
Studies of PDT with lung-sparing surgery in the past at University of Pennsylvania have resulted in survival rates of up to 41 months, including patients with advanced mesothelioma.
“PDT is an exciting emerging therapy that is currently not widely available for mesothelioma treatment,” says Alex Strauss, Managing Editor of the Surviving Mesothelioma website. “If the results of these new NIH-funded studies are as encouraging as the previous studies of PDT at Penn, more patients who need it may get access to this therapy.”
For more information, read the University of Pennsylvania’s release at Penn Medicine.