Targovax announces early signal of efficacy in ONCOS-102 trial in mesothelioma.
A new therapeutic treatment option may soon be available for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
Positive results have come from a phase I/II clinical trial of ONCOS-102 led by Targovax. The company specializes in immuno-oncology therapies—treatments that work with a patient’s immune system to identify and kill cancer cells.
Background on the ONCOS-102 Trial
Mesothelioma is a challenging illness to treat, so the medical community is dedicated to developing and testing new treatment methods. The most common form of mesothelioma is found in the pleural lining of the lungs.
Targovax is among the long list of companies working to provide pleural mesothelioma patients with more treatment options. But, the company is unique in that they are focused on developing therapeutic alternatives to mainstream mesothelioma treatments.
Targovax’s work is geared towards testing immuno-oncology therapies, which activate and guide a patient’s immune system to attack treatment-resistant tumors.
The most recent Targovax phase I/II clinical trial tested the effects of ONCOS-102, a cancer vaccine that helps the immune system selectively target cancer cells in Norwegian patients with pleural mesothelioma.
The clinical trial combined ONCOS-102 with standard chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma—pemetrexed/cisplatin.
What Is Immuno-oncology?
Unlike mainstream mesothelioma treatments—surgery, chemotherapy or radiation—immuno-oncology helps a patient’s immune system shrink tumors.
Immuno-oncology uses immunotherapy treatments to re-active the immune cells, as cancer cells are capable of tricking and turning off the immune system’s protective functions. As one of the newest fields of cancer treatment, immuno-oncology has been vastly studied for its safety and effectiveness.
In the process of killing mesothelioma cells, chemotherapy and radiation therapies also destroy healthy tissues. Immuno-oncology offers patients a less toxic treatment option, as immunotherapy agents strengthen patients’ immune systems to kill cancer cells through natural defense mechanisms.
Results From the ONCOS-102 Trial
The trial assesses the treatments’ safety and tolerability, immune activation abilities and overall response rate compared to chemotherapy alone.
The phase I/II randomized trial included 6 patients diagnosed with unresectable pleural mesothelioma. All patients were given a combination of ONCOS-102 and pemetrexed/cisplatin over the course of 6 months.
Half the patients received the treatment as 1st line (meaning they received no prior treatment) and the other half after previous treatment (either 2nd or 3rd line). Two patients in the 1st line treatment group showed a positive immune response, along with one patient in the previous treatment group.
Overall, the phase I/II trial reported a positive response in 3 out of the 6 patients. One patient displaying a partial response and 2 showing stable disease.
Based on these results, recruitment for the next phase of the trial is now underway. When fully recruited, the randomized trial will include 30 patients, with 20 in the variable group and 10 in the control group.
What Does This Trial Mean for Mesothelioma Patients?
The results from the phase I/II clinical trial led by Targovax is very exciting for the mesothelioma community. Given the aggressive nature of mesothelioma, the development of new and more effective therapies have the potential to lengthen patients’ life expectancy and increase quality of life.
Early signs of efficacy in a new immunotherapy treatment are particularly exciting. There have been more than 4,000 clinical trials of over 800 immuno-oncology compounds, but the study of mesothelioma specific immunotherapy agents has been limited.
Results from this study could introduce a safe, patient-specific, mesothelioma vaccine or mesothelioma-fighting virus. These agents could be combined with standard treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, or prescribed as a preventative measure.
Immunotherapy also has the potential to help the immune system recognize and remember mesothelioma cells. This memory could lead to the elimination of mesothelioma entirely or longer-lasting remissions.
If you have been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in participating in an immunotherapy clinical trial, speak with your doctor. If you would like to learn more about the structure, benefits or risks of this treatment option, you can visit our page on Clinical Trials.