Photo Credit: 2019 Novocure. All rights reserved.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a breakthrough treatment option for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. Novocure’s NovoTTF-100L offers new hope, with clinical trials improving the prognosis of patients who used it with chemotherapy. It is the first new treatment option for the deadly disease to come on the market in 15 years.

What Is NovoTTF-100L Therapy?

NovoTTF-100L is a groundbreaking new device that treats malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors often cannot be removed by surgery, leaving many patients with few treatment options. NovoTTF-100L is the first new therapy in over 15 years to be approved by the FDA, offering new hope to mesothelioma victims.

NovoTTF-100L is used in combination with two-drug chemotherapy. It is a portable and wearable device designed to use at home. The device is connected to a patient’s chest and delivers electrical fields, called tumor treatment fields (“TTFields”) through the torso.

TTFields may stop cancer cells from dividing, which is how mesothelioma spreads. It is believed that TTFields can prevent tumors from growing while also possibly killing cancerous cells.

Promising Clinical Trial Results of NovoTTF-100L

Promising results of an 80-person clinical trial were released in mid-October of 2019. The patients treated with NovoTTF-100L and chemotherapy showed encouraging survival rates.

The principal investigator of the study reported, “The median overall survival of 18.2 months is impressive given that MPM is a tumor with a dismal prognosis and few effective therapeutic options.”

A diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma usually means that a person has less than a year to live. NovoTTF-100L may offer new hope.

Some promising highlights of the clinical trial include:

  • More than 60% of the patients treated with NovoTTF-100L and chemotherapy lived over one year.
  • 97% of patients either stabilized or had a reduction in tumor size. Of those:
    • 40% had a slight reduction in tumor size.
    • 57% remained stable, which means the cancer did not grow.

NovoTTF-100L for Pleural Mesothelioma Patients

The NovoTTF-100L system may be prescribed by a licensed physician to treat adult patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The treatment is used together with pemetrexed (Alimta) and platinum-based chemotherapy.

The FDA has approved NovoTTF-100L for patients with locally advanced and metastatic malignant pleural mesothelioma who cannot be treated with surgery or radiation. The results of the clinical trial showed that the system has the potential to extend the lives of these patients.

It is recommended that patients with implanted electronic devices (such as automatic defibrillators or pacemakers) or sensitivity to conductive hydrogels (such as those used in ECG stickers) should not use NovoTTF-100L.

Benefits of NovoTTF-100L for Pleural Mesothelioma

The treatment system offers many benefits for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. Importantly, the NovoTTF-100L system is easy for patients to use.

Once a physician who is trained to use the device prescribes it to a patient, the patient and caregivers are trained for at-home use. The physician then monitors patients under their care.

The device is tiny and wearable. It can operate throughout the day and night and even works as the patient is asleep. Operation of NovoTTF-100L is almost unnoticeable.

The clinical trial also showed that side effects of the device were not common.

Some side effects reported included: 

  • Abnormal physical weakness or fatigue
  • Allergic reaction to gel needed to apply electrodes
  • Anemia
  • Chest pain
  • Constipation or nausea
  • Skin irritation or toxicity

Access NovoTTF-100L Therapy Now

In late-September of this year, West Cancer Center & Research Institute in Memphis, Tennessee announced that it was the first center in the country to get approval to prescribe NovoTTF-100L. The facility’s experts are now certified to prescribe the device.

The first patient will soon begin treatment of NovoTTF-100L and will wear the system for 18 hours a day.

Dr. Matthew Ballo, Director of Radiation Oncology at West Cancer Center & Research Institute, stated:

“We are really proud that West Cancer Center is the first to offer this therapy as part of a combination treatment, giving another, much-needed option to patients and their families. We actually have just prescribed NovoTTF-100L for one of our patients and he will be the first in the country to receive this treatment.”

Some experts believe it will be only a matter of time before the NovoTTF-100L system will be widely available.

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Sources
  1. Business Wire. (October 16, 2019). “Results from STELLAR Trial of Tumor Treating Fields with Chemotherapy in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Published in The Lancet Oncology.” Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191016005264/en/. Accessed on November 16, 2019.
  2. Novocure. Retrieved from https://www.novocure.com/. Accessed on November 16, 2019.
  3. South Florida Reporter. (November 1, 2019). “First Patient Tries Out New Mesothelioma Treatment.” Retrieved from https://southfloridareporter.com/first-patient-tries-out-new-mesothelioma-treatment/. Accessed on November 16, 2019.
  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “NovoTTF™-100L System - H180002.” Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/recently-approved-devices/novottftm-100l-system-h18000. Accessed on November 16, 2019.
  5. Yahoo Finance. Retrieved from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/west-cancer-center-first-center-100000745.html. Accessed on November 16, 2019.

Last modified: November 22, 2019