FROM THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION’S “MEET THE EXPERTS” SERIES: Introducing a New Clinical Trial with Dr. Julie Brahmer

Tonight, as part of the “Meet the Experts” podcasts presented exclusively by the Meso Foundation, Dr. Julie Brahmer, Associate Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital, sat down with Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner and Medical Liaison for the Meso Foundation, to discuss her new trial targeting pleural mesothelioma. In her talk “NGR-hTTNF: A New Multi-Center Drug Trial for Pleural Mesothelioma”, Dr. Brahmer discussed a new chemotherapy treatment, designed specifically for pleural mesothelioma patients.

To participate in the trial, one prior treatment regimen is required (for example Alimta and Cisplatin) which usually consists of 4 to 6 treatments. The NGR-hTTNF trial can then be offered in the second line setting. Patients will receive an active chemotherapy agent, and plus or minus the experimental drug NGR-hTTNF. This trial is available worldwide. In the United States, it can be obtained at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as a few others sites in Texas, California, and New York. According to Dr. Brahmer, it consists of a weekly treatment, with the most common side effects resulting in fatigue, nausea, headaches, and generalized weakness. The enrollment process into the NGR-hTTNF trial begins with an appointment with an investigator in trial.

The investigator reviews whether or not the patient is eligible based on treatments already received, the patient’s stage of mesothelioma, and his or her general physical well-being. Following this appointment, the patient must sign the consent form, after which eligibility is finalized through a few additional tests. If patients have responded positively or remain stable, chemotherapy will be discontinued after six cycles and patients will be extended an opportunity to receive NGR-hTTNF as a maintenance therapy. The primary end point of this trial will be to extend survival rates with secondary endpoints of improving quality of life and diminished symptoms of mesothelioma.

Having just returned from the annual Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, IL, where another expert from our “Meet the Experts” series — Dr. Lee M. Krug — gave his own summary of the event, Dr. Brahmer feels optimistic and excited about possibilities ahead. “I think a lot of the things we’re learning in lung cancer research may affect patients with mesothelioma,” she states. “There are some therapies being developed that stimulate the immune system, and I hope those types of drugs will have some type of role in combatting mesothelioma, as well.”

Dr. Brahmer’s research and clinical practice focuses on the development of new therapies for the treatment and prevention of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Dr. Brahmer has published several papers in this area of research and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Thoracic Committee and Cancer Prevention Steering Committee. She is one of the founding Board members for the National Lung Cancer Partnership (formerly Women Against Lung Cancer). Within the National Lung Cancer Partnership she currently serves as a member and the Chairman of the Scientific Executive Committee. She serves on the medical advisory board of the Lung Cancer Research Fund and is a former member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s Science Advisory Board.

More information about this trial is available at the Meso Foundation by emailing mary@curemeso.org or by calling (703) 879-3820. If you missed tonight’s “Meet the Experts” presentation, you can replay Dr. Brahmer’s talk and find out more about our other mesothelioma research resources at curemeso.org.

FROM THE HEADLINES: 2012 Symposium Speaker Dr. Raja Flores on the Lasting Toll of 9-11

Dr. Raja Flores, chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a featured speaker at our 2012 Symposium in Washington D.C., spoke to FoxNews.com about the adverse health effects some of those first responders have faced. The article reports that Mount Sinai researchers have been following approximately 30,000 first responders, many of whom were breathing in dust containing 2,000 tons of asbestos on a daily basis as they cleaned up the site. The researchers found 30 percent had problems with asthma, 40 percent had sinus problems, and another 40 percent had gastro-esophageal reflux, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.

You can also watch the accompanying video here.

If you want to hear more from Dr. Flores, make plans to join us at the 2012 Symposium on Thursday, July 12, (9:45 a.m. – 12:00 Noon) to participate in the panel “Demystifying Scientific Breakthroughs” panel. Along with Dr. Flores,  the latest in mesothelioma research will be presented by Stephen Hahn, MD, Raffit Hassan, MD, Robert Kratzke, MD, Harvey Pass, MD, Daniel Sterman, MD, David Sugarbaker, MD.

Click here to preview the 2012 Symposium agenda.

FROM THE HEADLINES: The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Appears before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

Last week, on June 6, 2012, Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, nurse practitioner and medical liaison for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense, at their Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Outside Witness Testimony Hearing. Speaking with the voice of the Meso Foundation and its community, Mary made an appeal to the lawmakers for their attention concerning mesothelioma and its impact on those who served to defend the United States.

The Meso Foundation played a critical role in making peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma eligible topics within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The first ever DoD award for mesothelioma occurred in 2008 when one investigator obtained over $1.3 million for research. A total of $7.7 million has been awarded to mesothelioma research through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, both divisions of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, which is administered by the Department of Defense since Fiscal Year 2008. Continue reading “FROM THE HEADLINES: The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Appears before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations” »

GUEST POST: An ASCO Update from Dr. Lee M. Krug, MD

The Meso Foundation is happy to present this special guest blogpost from Lee M. Krug, MD, Associate Attending Physician in the Division of Thoracic Oncology, Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York and Director of the Mesothelioma Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Krug has investigated multimodality approaches for patients with early stage malignant pleural mesothelioma, has led a multicenter U.S. trial of induction chemotherapy before extrapleural pneumonectomy, and has a current study testing the feasibility of chemotherapy followed by pleural radiation. Dr. Krug also has a strong interest in novel therapeutics for patients with more advanced disease, and is the principal investigator of an international, phase III trial of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, vorinostat. Dr. Krug led the committee for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) that established treatment guidelines for mesothelioma, and is currently the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and serves on the Board of Directors at the Meso Foundation.

The Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) was held in Chicago, IL from June 1-5, 2012. This is the largest meeting in oncology each year with over 25,000 attendees from all over the world. Several abstracts of interest to mesothelioma were presented, so I thought I would summarize the results of a few of the most interesting:

Randomized Phase II Trial of Pemetrexed/Cisplatin with or without CBP501 in Patients with Advanced Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: CBP501 is a novel compound that enhances the ability of cisplatin to damage cancer cells. In this international trial, patients received treatment with standard chemotherapy (pemetrexed and cisplatin), or they received it in combination with CBP501. 63 patients participated in total; 40 were in the group with CBP501. The only additional side effect of CBP501 seemed to be a rash that occurred during the infusion. Forty percent of the patients who received chemotherapy plus CBP501 had tumor shrinkage as compared to 17% of the patients who received chemotherapy alone. The average time before the cancer grew back was 5.9 months in the CBP501 arm, and 4.7 months in the other arm. Although the patients who received chemotherapy alone fared less well than expected, the results seemed encouraging. Another similar trial with CBP501 has also been conducted in lung cancer and until those results become available later this year, plans for future trials are unclear. Continue reading “GUEST POST: An ASCO Update from Dr. Lee M. Krug, MD” »

FROM THE HEADLINES: Photodynamic Therapy Added to Lung-Sparing Surgery Improves Survival for Mesothelioma Patients

The website Medical News Today recently released findings of a new treatment for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The treatment involves PDT (photodynamic therapy) conjunction with lung-sparing surgery. Results look promising in comparison to patients utilizing other mesothelioma treatment options. In this approach, provided the patient can keep both lungs after treatment, patients face better chances in combatting mesothelioma once it returns. Patient are given a photosensitive drug that cancer cells absorb, and then Fiber optics direct light onto the tumor site, which activates the drugs, and destroys the cancerous cells.

Leading this research from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, is Dr. Joseph Friedberg, MD. In this battle against mesothelioma, considered one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, Dr. Friedberg has stated, ”While I don’t consider anything short of a cure as a victory against mesothelioma, I am encouraged by our results. Based on our new findings, we are redoubling our clinical and translational research efforts to find a way to further improve and refine this multimodality treatment approach for mesothelioma.” Continue reading “FROM THE HEADLINES: Photodynamic Therapy Added to Lung-Sparing Surgery Improves Survival for Mesothelioma Patients” »