For some patients with NF2-deficient malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), their cancer is unresectable, meaning that it cannot be surgically removed. Finding a way to better treat and assist these individuals is crucial, and the absence of new therapeutic options remains a huge unmet need within this field. However, that may soon change. According to a news release from Ikena Oncology, Inc. (“Ikena”), the company’s therapy IK-930, designed for those with NF2-deficient MPM, recently received Fast Track designation from the FDA.
According to the FDA, Fast Track is:
a process designed to facilitate the development, and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need. The purpose is to get important new drugs to the patient earlier.
Along with this designation, companies may receive more frequent FDA communication and even Priority Review. Outside of Fast Track designation, IK-930 also received Orphan Drug designation for the same indication.
Ikena researchers suggest that TEAD transcription within the Hippo pathway is not only a key driver in many different forms of cancer, but also contributes to treatment resistance. Therefore, IK-930 is designed as a TEAD inhibitor. Administered orally, IK-930 reduces tumor growth and also causes cancerous cell apoptosis. By addressing the underlying genetic issues associated with NF2-deficient MPM, researchers hope that IK-930 will offer a more targeted and effective approach than the current standards-of-care. For now, Ikena is evaluating IK-930 for patients with solid tumors within a clinical study. Research findings will not be available until a later date.
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM): An Overview
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is considered to be the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for an estimated 75% of all diagnoses. In patients with MPM, the cancer forms within the lungs’ pleura. Typically, asbestos exposure causes MPM. Asbestos fibers get stuck within the lungs, causing health issues such as damage and inflammation. Eventually, this inflammation prompts genetic changes which lead to cancer development. For those with NF2-deficient MPM, for example, much of the NF2 coding region is either missing or mutated. The survival rate associated with MPM is often between 4-18 months following diagnosis. Symptoms associated with this rare cancer can include:
- Fever and night sweats
- Shortness of breath and/or difficulty or painful breathing
- Chest pain
- Intense fatigue
- Lower back and/or rib pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Coughing up blood
- Arm or facial swelling
- Unintended weight loss