Onconase Treatment -
Mesothelioma Onconase Chemotherapy
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Onconase is a relatively new type of mesothelioma chemotherapy drug that is undergoing clinical trial testing to determine its effectiveness in treating the rare cancer affecting the serous membrane. In addition to having applications in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, it is believed that Onconase could potentially be used to treat various types of cardiovascular disease and provide anti-viral assistance to certain HIV medications.
Onconase, the brand name for ranpirnase, is a type of ribonuclease protein that inhibits cellular growth and initiates programmed cellular death (apoptosis). Produced from the eggs of leopard frogs (Rana pipiens), Onconase works by speeding up the breakdown of ribonucleic acid (RNA), enhancing the anti-cancer effect of traditional mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments.
The drug's name (Onconase) is derived from a combination of the words oncology (the study of tumors) and ribonuclease (enzyme that speeds up the breakdown of RNA). One of many new mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs, Onconase is believed to be a better option than some of the more conventional chemotherapy drugs because it is relatively free of the side effects that are commonly associated with chemotherapy.
There are a number of ongoing drug trials testing the efficacy of Onconase in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. Thus far, traditional mesothelioma treatments have been unable to thwart the spread of the aggressive mesothelial cancer.
Onconase is currently undergoing phase III of mesothelioma clinical trial testing through which drug effectiveness is being tested against that of conventional methods of chemotherapy; specifically, the trial is comparing the effectiveness of an Onconase / Doxorubicin drug combination in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma versus the effectiveness of Doxorubicin alone.
Doxorubicin is a type of anthracycline anti-cancer drug that has conventionally been used to treat malignancies. Also called Adriamycin or Doxorubicin Hydrochloride, Doxorubicin slows the growth of mesothelioma cancer cells by inhibiting the synthesis of DNA and RNA, preventing cancer cell replication (mitosis).
Malignant mesothelioma patients who meet the trial's phase III eligibility requirements are split into two groups:
- Group 1: The first group receives a combination of Onconase and Doxorubicin over the course of 18 weeks. Onconase treatments are given one time each week (18 times) while Doxorubicin treatments are given one time every three weeks (six times). Patients are monitored throughout the 18 week period and up to several years after completion.
- Group 2: The second group receives Doxorubicin treatments over the course of 18 weeks. As with group 1, the Doxorubicin is administered one time every three weeks (six times) throughout the 18 week period.
Whether or not Onconase is approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma is yet to be seen.
[Page updated August 2009]