A new cancer drug, Defactinib (VS-6033), is an orally administered compound designed to target and kill cancer cells in mesothelioma patients. The clinical trial named COMMAND (Control of Mesothelioma and Maintenance Defactinib) is a global clinical trial involving the U.S., U.K., Japan, Australia and other European countries and is expected to enroll between 350-400 patients to determine the effectiveness of VS-6033 for Mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
According to the news release on Business Wire on May 27, 2014 by Verastem, VS-6033’s manufacturer, the loss of tumor suppressor protein merlin reduces cancer stem cells growth. Approximately half of mesothelioma patients have merlin loss. Researchers have found that VS-6033, which is a focal adhesion kinease (FAK) inhibitor, restores the activity of merlin and slows the growth of cancer cells. VS-6033 targets cancer cells that have been shown to survive the effects of anti-cancer drugs as well as patients who lack the merlin protein. “These data demonstrate that FAK inhibition is particularly effective in models of merlin-negative mesothelioma” according to Jonathan Pachter, Ph.D., Verastem Head of Research. Clinical trials such as COMMAND continue to provide valuable information in the fight against mesothelioma.