A study looking at a new drug to treat mesothelioma (ADAM)

Cancer type:





Phase 2

This study looked at a new drug to see if it could help treat people with mesothelioma. The trial was for people with mesothelioma in the chest. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Treatment for mesothelioma usually aims to control the disease and keep symptoms under control for as long as possible. But unfortunately, mesothelioma can be difficult to treat. So, doctors are always looking for new ways to treat it.

Researchers have found a new way of destroying mesothelioma cells in the laboratory, by removing an amino acid called arginine. Arginine helps with many different jobs in the body, including cell division Open a glossary item.

Our bodies can make arginine using an enzyme Open a glossary item called argininosuccinate synthetase, or ASS1. Many people with mesothelioma do not have the ASS1 enzyme in their cancer cells. So if you remove arginine, they will not be able to replace it, and the cancer cells will not be able to divide and grow.

This study looked at a new drug called ADI-PEG 20, which removes arginine. Doctors use it to treat people with liver and skin cancer, but they would like to see if it may also help people with mesothelioma. The main aim of this study was to look at how well ADI-PEG 20 controlled mesothelioma in the chest.

Summary of results

The trial team found that ADI-PEG 20 did help people with mesothelioma of the chest whose cancer cells didn’t have the ASS1 enzyme.

This was a randomised trial. The 68 people who took part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups.

  • 24 people had best standard care Open a glossary item only
  • 44 people had ADI-PEG 20 and best standard care

After treatment the trial team looked at the average length of time people were alive and free of mesothelioma. They found that it was

  • Just under 2 months for people who had best standard care only
  • Just over 3 months for people who had ADI-PEG 20

They also found that those who had ADI-PEG 20 on average lived about 2 months more than those who didn’t. This could have happened by chance and so was not statistically significant Open a glossary item.  

The worst side effects of ADI-PEG 20 were

The trial team concluded that ADI-PEG 20 was safe and helped people with mesothelioma of the chest. Based on these results the trial team have started a second trial combining ADI-PEG20 with the standard of care of pemetrexed and cisplatin.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Peter Szlosarek

Supported by

Barts Health NHS Trust
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Polaris Pharma
Queen Mary University of London
UCL Cancer Trials Centre

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/07/026.

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 822

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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