Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.

Researchers have introduced a new drug, called genolimzumab, that was developed to treat advanced, solid tumors including mesothelioma, a cancer caused exclusively by asbestos.

Genolimzumab is an antibody that targets proteins (called antigens) found on cancer cells. The drug works alongside the body’s own immune system – which cancer cells are dangerously good at evading – to fight some types of cancer. This type of treatment is called immunotherapy.

According to preclinical trials, genolimzumab is as safe and effective as other approved immunotherapy antibodies, like pembrolizumab. The new study aims to dive further into its anti-tumor capabilities, safety, and tolerability among patients.

Genolimzumab Clinical Trial to Commence Phase 1

The study, conducted by life sciences company CBT Pharmaceuticals in Australia, is expected to recruit 50 participants. Some candidates have mesothelioma, while others have relapsed or recurrent solid tumors in the colon, uterus, stomach, liver, lung, ovaries, or kidneys.

Sanjeev Redkar, Ph.D., president and CEO of CBT Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release:

“We are very pleased to begin the development of this important second-generation PD-1 drug candidate intended to treat patients with cancer. In the clinic, we hope to define the unique characteristics of this agent shown pre-clinically, and ultimately, differentiating it in a combination approach with other targeted agents, standard marketed therapies, and other immune-oncology agents.”

Redkar’s team will split the study into 2 parts. In Phase 1, they will infuse patients with 1 of 3 dose levels twice a month for 4 months. This will allow researchers to recommend a Phase 2 dose and evaluate its effectiveness against 2 or more tumor types, in terms of tumor regression, duration of response to treatment, and the patients’ progression-free survival.

The Outlook for Mesothelioma—Will the Treatment Be Effective?

Antibody drugs have already proven effective against malignant tumors. Over the past couple of decades, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved more than a dozen drugs similar to genolimzumab that have shown promising results.

Even so, they have only proven useful in treating some cancers. Genolimzumab researchers have the opportunity to learn more about antigens and treat cancers that have thus far been difficult to target. Mesothelioma, for example, is an aggressive and historically incurable cancer that can be resistant to common forms of cancer treatment, like chemotherapy. Though still emerging, this class of drugs will have an important role in mesothelioma research in the coming years.