June 16, 2020 By Erika R. Whitehead

Optune Lua: The Newest Advancement in Tumor Treating Fields Technology for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

In May, Optune Lua became the first FDA approved Tumor Treating Fields device designed for use with standard dual drug chemotherapy for patients diagnosed with inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. Previously named the NovoTTF-100L System, the portable device was created by Novocure, a global oncology company leading the way in new therapies for solid tumors. Optune Lua is the most recent advancement in TTFields technology for MPM patients in over 15 years.

TTFields are low-intensity, wave-like electric fields. They treat mesothelioma by slowing or stopping cancer cell division, sometimes destroying the cells altogether. Optune Lua delivers TTFields through adhesive transducer arrays. The placement of the arrays is customizable, based on patient body size and tumor location. As the mesothelioma cancer cell begins to divide, the low-intensity electric fields interfere with the division process.

Optune Lua was initially FDA-approved to treat glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain cancer. The device was adapted slightly to meet the needs of mesothelioma patients. “By tuning the TTFields parameters, one could potentially target other cancers beyond glioblastoma,” said Uri Weinberg, the chief science officer for Novocure. “We were able to demonstrate that TTFields set to 150 kilohertz, as opposed to the glioblastoma device which is set at 200 kilohertz, have an anti-cell division effect on mesothelioma in preclinical trials.”

Patients who may be concerned about the residual effects of the TTFields on nearby tissues and cells can be reassured that the low-intensity electric fields only target the cancerous tumor cells. “The transducer arrays apply non-invasively to the skin surrounding the tumor cover,” he added. “The fields are tuned to stop the division process of cancer cells with a specific frequency that is not anticipated to disrupt the process of normal tissues surrounding all of the target cancerous cells.”

The transducer arrays are seamlessly and strategically placed on the chest, back, or sides. They connect to the TTField generator, which is concealed in a small, easy to carry backpack. After receiving the device, patients are instructed on proper array placement by a trained medical professional. The transducer arrays can be easily removed and reapplied daily. 

“Based on the preclinical and clinical data that we’ve collected throughout many years of research, we recommend the patient use the device continuously for a minimum of 18 hours per day,” he said. “…The device was designed so that they can perform standard daily activities while using the device and receiving treatment, such as shopping, meeting with family and friends, etc.”

Optune Lua may be an effective treatment option for patients with inoperable MPM combined with dual-drug chemotherapy. This advancement in TTFields technology represents a significant accomplishment in the battle against some aggressive and rare forms of cancer. Weinberg notes that more than 15,000 patients have been treated with this glioblastoma approved TTFields system.

“I’m very excited myself about the fact that we were able to launch out; we’re expanding the patient population with potential benefits from TTFields into the malignant pleural mesothelioma field,” he shared. “We are very excited to see what lies ahead so that we can expand the patient population, which can benefit from TTFields even more.”

For more information about Optune Lua, please visit https://www.optunelua.com/