Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy Drugs

Alimta is a chemotherapy drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 to fight malignant mesothelioma. The drug works by preventing cell growth which can stop the malignant tumor from metastasizing (or spreading) throughout the body. The drug works on three enzymes specifically: thymidylate synthase, dihydrofolate reductase and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyl transferase. These enzymes are necessary for the formation of DNA and RNA. Since Alimta stops the formation of these enzymes it prevents the formation of DNA and RNA, which in turn stops cell growth and hopefully stops the tumor from metastasizing.

Alimta is administered intravenously once every three weeks for a ten-minute period. Alimta can be used as a single agent or in combination with cisplastin. Cisplatin is a platinum based chemotherapy drug used to treat several types of cancers. Alimta's clinical trials results suggest that Alimta, when used in combination with cisplatin, improves the median survival rate for patients suffering from malignant pleural effusion. Patients who were treated with Alimta and cisplatin survived about three months longer than patients treated only with cisplatin.


Carboplatin is a platinium (heavy metal) compound. It works by preventing the production of genetic material (DNA) by the cell. It does this by forming links with the strands of DNA and by doing so it binds them together. This prevents the cell from reproducing.

Carboplatin can also affect the growth and division of normal, healthy cells in the same way, such as blood, gut and hair cells. This can therefore cause several of the side effects seen with chemotherapy e.g. hair loss. The body's immune system also becomes suppressed increasing the risk of infections.


Cisplatin is sometimes called the "penicillin of cancer drugs" because it has been one of the most widely prescribed and effective treatment for many different cancer diagnoses. Unlike many cancer drugs, which are organic molecules with complex structures, cisplatin is an inorganic molecule with a simple structure.

Cisplatin works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells, slowing their advance in the body. Cisplatin is used to treat many types of cancer, but it is most widely prescribed for testicular, ovarian, bladder, lung, and stomach cancers. The drug has become very well known for its role in helping Lance Armstrong overcome cancer.


Onconase is a protein derived from the eggs and early embryos of the leopard frog (Rana pipens). It is one of the more recent chemotherapy drug that inhibits cancer cell growth and viral replication. It works by inducing the intracellular decay of RNA. This in turn inhibits the cellular growth of the tumor. It also seems to enhance the anti-cancer effects of conventional chemotherapy.

Onconase is made by Alfacell Corporation who is currently in late stage trials in patients with unresectable malignant mesothelioma. Earlier clinical trials showed impressive efficacy in these patients. If this data can be confirmed the drug would be a welcomed addition to treatment options for mesothelioma patients and their doctors.


Vinorelbine belongs to a group of chemotherapy medicines called vinca alkaloids. These work by preventing the cancer cells from entering the dividing stage (mitosis) of their life cycle. This stops the cells from multiplying.

Unfortunately, vinorelbine can also affect normal, healthy cells, particularly those that multiply quickly, such as blood cells and hair cells. The most important side effect is on the bone marrow where blood cells are made. Vinorelbine can decrease the production of blood cells, leaving people susceptible to infection. Regular blood tests are therefore needed to monitor the levels of blood cells.
Anti-Angiogenesis Drugs

The term angiogenesis means the creation of new blood vessels. It is derived from two Greek words: angio, meaning "blood vessel," and genesis, meaning "beginning." As the human body grows and develops, it needs to make new blood vessels to get blood to all of its cells. In cancer patients though, this same process creates new, very small blood vessels that provide a tumor with its own blood supply and allow it to grow. Anti-angiogenesis drugs try to stop tumor growth by preventing the creation of new blood vessels.

The first anti-angiogenesis drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer was bevacizumab (Avastin) in 2004. It is now used along with chemotherapy to treat several types of cancer, but unfortunately not mesothelioma. Veglin is an anti-angiogenesis drug that can potentially help mesothelioma patients. The drug is currently in phase II trials.

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