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Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers: Verastem Begins Clinical Trials for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

October 2, 2013 – As a follow up to our recent blog, we have continued to monitor developments regarding a recent orphan drug status designation that was granted to Verastem, Inc. for the treatment of mesothelioma.  Our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys are pleased to report that a vital clinical trial is now underway that may pave the way for a more effective treatment for mesothelioma.  This is promising news for those afflicted with this awful disease, and it creates a much-needed sense of hope for these victims and their families.

Verastem, Inc.  is a biopharmaceutical company that is dedicated to developing drugs to treat cancer by killing the cancer stem cells, which have been found to be responsible for tumor relapses and the spreading of the cancer to other areas in the body.  Verastem’s VS-6063 or “defactinib” is a focal adhesion kinase inhibitor, capable of interfering with the signaling pathways that enable cancer stem cells to develop, multiply and survive.

Verastem has recently launched an international Phase 2 study called COMMAND, short for Control of Mesothelioma with Maintenance Defactinib.  The study will include 350-400 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of mesothelioma.  Each participant must have documented signs of a partial response or disease stabilization after receiving chemotherapy treatments with pemetrexed (Alimta).  This initial chemotherapy is intended to gain early control of the disease, whereas during the study, the administration of defactinib is aimed at killing the mesothelioma cancer stem cells.

It has been found that about 40 to 50 percent of mesothelioma patients lack a specific protein known as merlin. When merlin is present, the activity of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is decreased.  Without merlin, the increased FAK allows cancer cells to grow uncontrollably and spread. In essence, the merlin acts as a tumor suppressant, helping to suppress cell proliferation and delay disease progression.  Prior research has suggested that focal adhesion kinase inhibitors such as defactinib have been found to be more effective in mesothelioma patients that have documented low merlin levels.

The mesothelioma study is taking place in 35 medical sites worldwide including the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and the United Kingdom.  The COMMAND participants will be randomly divided into two halves.  One group will receive the defactinib while the other group will receive a placebo.  Those groups will further be broken down into subgroups based on how much of the protein biomarker merlin is detected in their tumor samples.  The principal objectives of the study are to determine overall survival rates and progression free survival rates.

About halfway through the clinical trial, the researchers will analyze all the data to decide how to move forward with the second half of the study.  The researchers will determine at that time whether defactinib is effective in all the participants or just in the patients with documented levels of merlin.  They also intend to apply for FDA approval if the drug is ready.

For information regarding registration for the COMMAND clinical trial, click here

Shein Law:  Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys Advocating for Local Victims & Their Families for Over 35 Years

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or any other, contact Shein Law in Philadelphia as soon as possible to obtain the sound legal advice that will ensure your rights are fully protected.  Our qualified Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers will provide you with the skilled legal representation to recover the financial compensation to which you are entitled.  We maintain offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pennsauken, New Jersey, but our mesothelioma attorneys will be glad to meet with you at a location convenient to you and your family.  Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) to schedule a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.

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