He will take part in the Phase 1 clinical trial currently on offer in Oxford. It's not specifically for mesothelioma but all solid tumours (i.e. any type of cancer except those involving the blood or lymphatic system).
The trial drug is a biological therapy called AZD0424, made by Astra Zeneca. The trial is a joint venture between Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and is being carried out in Oxford, Belfast and Edinburgh.
AZD0424 is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It works by slowing down or stopping two proteins called Src and ABL1 which are naturally produced in the body. These proteins are involved in various parts of cell growth, cell invasion, metastasis (the spread of cancer) and the development of blood cells. Cancer cells have higher levels of these proteins than normal cells.
It has been shown in the laboratory and in animal studies that AZD0424 blocks these proteins, preventing the delivery of nutrients to cancer cells via blood vessels, and thus helping to halt the growth of cancer cells and tumours. In other words, I don't think we can expect it to shrink the mesothelioma. However, we can allow ourselves to hope that it will slow the rate of disease progression or, better still, stop it growing altogether.
The trial which Steve will be taking part in is the first time where the drug will be given to patients, alone and in combination with other drugs. It started in October 2012. The first patent was given a low dose, then the dose is gradually increased (dose escalation) until the researchers find the optimum dose in terms of effectiveness with tolerable side effects.
The trial is due to finish in September 2016, so Steve is entering about three quarters of the way through - a good balance between potential effectiveness and side effects.
If you want to find out more about the trial click here. There is more about the drug here, here, and here.
Next week it's all the preliminary stuff; one hospital appointment at the start of the week to sign the consent form and have a baseline scan, followed by another later in the week for all the pre-trial tests. The trial itself will start the week after next. Wish us luck!