Electric Fields May Be a New Treatment Option for Mesothelioma Patients

Novocure, a UK-based medical device company, has developed novel devices that offer an alternative means of destroying tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue. The device has already been approved by the FDA for the treatment of brain cancer. Now, it is in Phase II clinical trial for patients battling pleural mesothelioma.

Researchers reviewed the STELLAR clinical trial back in April, and reported that 42 pleural mesothelioma patients treated with Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) and carboplatin or pemetrexed and cisplatin had a one-year survival rate of 80% compared to the 50% survival rate with chemotherapy-only patients.

“We are extremely pleased with these top-line results, which bring us one step closer to realizing the potential for a new treatment for mesothelioma patients in desperate need,” said Dr. Eilon Kirson, Chief Science Officer and Head of Research and Development at Novocure.

The device, NovoTTF-100L, provided mesothelioma patients with a round-the-clock treatment option that didn’t interfere with their daily lives. Patients were able to enjoy activities, such as walking, shopping and being outdoors.

The device connects to the patient via insulated electrode arrays that are placed on the upper region of the torso. The arrays deliver low-intensity alternating electric fields to the area where the tumors are located. NovoTTF-100L is discreet and lightweight enough to be used during most activities without interference. The device must be active for 18 hours per day.

Side effects are minimal, with skin irritation being the major complaint. Each tumor type uses a different frequency and intensity setting.

Previously, Novocure obtained a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) designation for the device for use with pleural mesothelioma. Kirson says that the company plans to make the device available by 2019 pending approval from the FDA.

The company has also completed or is completing clinical trials involving TTF and ovarian cancer, metastasis, non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.