Purpose of review: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare malignancy with limited therapeutic options and its incidence is still increasing in both Europe and the developing nations. Prognosis of MPM patients is poor even if the median survival durations have been slightly improved after the introduction of the up-to-date chemotherapy combination with pemetrexed and cisplatin. There is a continuing unmet need to develop better systemic treatment for this disease, but the rarity of the tumor type creates formidable challenges in clinical trial research.
Recent findings: Better understanding of the molecular machinery of MPM leads to the design and synthesis of novel compounds targeted against pathways identified as crucial for MPM cell proliferation and metastasis. Most efforts aim at improving standard first-line therapy, or developing effective second-line treatments. Several classes of drugs are currently being explored either in combination with cisplatin and pemetrexed or as single agent for relapsed or progressive MPM.
Summary: This review focuses on several ongoing or recently completed clinical trials investigating novel, promising agents as first-line or second-line therapy for advanced MPM.