A trial of vorinostat for advanced mesothelioma

Cancer type:





Phase 3

This trial looked at a drug called vorinostat (also known as MK0683) for mesothelioma of the lung that continued to grow despite having chemotherapy.

The results of this trial were published in 2015. 

More about this trial

Chemotherapy is often used to treat mesothelioma. But this type of cancer often comes back and researchers are looking for new treatments to help people in this situation. In this trial they looked at a drug called vorinostat.
In cancer cells, there are chemical messengers (enzymes) that send signals telling the cells to grow and divide. Vorinostat blocks some of these signals, which can slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Everybody taking part in the trial had treatment available to help any cancer symptoms and to improve their quality of life. This is best supportive care. Some people also had vorinostat.
The aims of the trial were to:
  • see if vorinostat and best supportive care is better than best supportive care alone for advanced mesothelioma
  • learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The trial team found that giving people with mesothelioma of the lung (pleural mesothelioma) vorinostat after chemotherapy did not improve the length of time they lived for. They do not recommend it as a treatment for people with advanced pleural mesothelioma.

This was an international phase 3 trial. 661 people in 24 countries took part. 

The trial was randomised. The people taking part were put into treatment groups by a computer. Neither they nor their doctor could decide which group they were in. 

Half the people taking part had vorinostat capsules. The other half had capsules that contain a dummy drug (placebo).

The people taking part and their doctors did not know which group they were in. This is called a double blind trial. 
The trial team found that having vorinostat did not significantly improve the length of time someone lived (their overall survival).  The average length of time people in the trial lived was:
  • just under 31 weeks (30.7) for the people taking vorinostat
  • just over 27 weeks (27.1) for the people taking the dummy drug
The trial team also looked at the side effects people in each group had. They found that the people having vorinostat had more:
  • tiredness and general discomfort (fatigue or malaise) 
  • difficulty breathing (dyspnoea)
Although this trial did not show any value from using vorinostat as a treatment for this group of people, the researchers do feel that there were valuable outcomes. They think other researchers can use findings from some of the studies they did as part of the trial to help with future trials and research. 
These include the results from the use of certain breathing tests called lung function tests Open a glossary item. They found the total amount of air you breathe out during a test (the forced vital capacity) can be linked to how well you can manage day to day (your performance status Open a glossary item) and your quality of life Open a glossary item.
Also as part of the trial the researchers gathered a large collection of mesothelioma tissue samples. This means they have been able to establish a tumour bank. These tissue samples are now being used to understand more about mesothelioma and hopefully find new ways of treating this disease, including using different types of cancer drugs. 
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. 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 Paul Robinson

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Sharp & Dohme

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


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

Last reviewed:

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