Mesothelioma Researcher Receives Prestigious Grant from Department of Defense

Marjorie ZaudererMarjorie Zauderer, MD, is a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center specializing in the care of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients, and serves as a member of the Meso Foundation’s Science Advisory Board. Recently, Dr. Zauderer was granted the Career Development Award to fund her mesothelioma research project.

Dr. Zauderer received the Career Development Award for her current research project involving the role of the BAP 1 gene (BRCA associated protein-1) in mesothelioma. Inherited mutations in the BAP1 gene have been shown to predispose patients to malignant pleural mesothelioma. “A better understanding of this gene could mean a better understanding of mesothelioma and how it develops in patients,” Zauderer states.

Dr. Zauderer began working on this project three years ago and has been gathering specimens and samples throughout this time. She predicts that enough samples will be collected within the next year or two to begin analysis that could yield significant insights and statistics. Her goal in 3 to 5 years is to have a plausible drug that has already completed phase 1 testing or is ready to begin phase 1 testing in clinical trials.

In an interview, Dr. Zauderer expressed her passion for her work, citing her many college application essays that she recently came across. “All my applications were about how I wanted to use genetics to help medicine. 20 years later, that’s actually what I do,” Zauderer states.

The Career Development Award provides funding from the Department of Defense to support a specific research project. Funding is provided to the selected project over a three year period, during which certain research components must be met and specific goals achieved. Mesothelioma is a disease of interest to the Department of Defense, as an estimated one third of mesothelioma patients either served in the Navy or worked in shipyards.

Learn more about Marjorie Zauderer at curemeso.org.

Meso Warrior, Rich Mosca, Featured on Everyday Health

Curemeso.orgLast week, mesothelioma survivor and mesothelioma community member, Rich Mosca, shared his powerful story of diagnosis and the beginning of his eight-year battle with meso on Everyday Health.

Mesothelioma is known to be very difficult to treat. But before treatment can even begin, a patient needs a diagnosis. In his contribution to the My Cancer Story section of the popular website, Rich details the long road it took to finally learn he has mesothelioma, and the unexpected relief of obtaining the diagnosis.

“Having no idea what was wrong, we had no idea what to do,” says Rich in his blog.

Rich’s story points out what is, perhaps, the disconnect in the world of mesothelioma – so many have heard about it from TV commercials, yet so few doctors actually think about it when patients present with certain symptoms.

To read Rich’s article, “Despite the TV Ads, Even Doctors Didn’t Know Much About My Cancer” in its entirety, please visit Everyday Health.

Oklahoma Tornados: The Continued Threat of Existing Asbestos in Our Homes

asbestos_smallMeso warrior, Liz VanZandt of Oklahoma, is acutely aware of the recent devastation from the tornados in Moore, Oklahoma. “I watched as people were climbing through the rubble in search of loved ones, pets and personal items left behind from the tornado,” she said. As a mesothelioma survivor, her thoughts go immediately to the asbestos that the tornados released into the air. Natural disasters, like the tornados in Moore, disturb existing asbestos-containing materials and they become airborne. We know that any exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, so anyone present at the site of the tornados is at risk for developing mesothelioma.

Ms. VanZandt knows this firsthand, saying “I wept when the thought came to my mind, long after they rebuild and the cameras are gone, the asbestos that they are in the midst of will most likely make some of them ill. It will be like getting hit all over.”

Unfortunately, these natural disasters and national tragedies (like the September 11th terrorists attacks) will continue to disturb the existing asbestos in our environment for years to come. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that asbestos still exists in 35 million homes in the United States, and that there are asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings.[i]

The question remains, what will happen to the victims and first responders that are exposed to asbestos now, and develop mesothelioma 10-50 years down the road? The emergency funds provided by the Federal and State governments are not going to be available to them. ”I know the immediate needs have to be met and I am grateful this is being addressed. The long term needs should be acknowledged by our government.”

Unfortunately, even if asbestos were banned today, the existing threat remains. For all those who have been exposed in the past and will be exposed in the future, research to find better treatments and a cure for mesothelioma is the only way to ensure that asbestos becomes less dangerous and deadly.


[i] http://www.epa.gov/region4/air/asbestos/inform.htm Accessed May 30, 2013.

The American Cancer Society Turns 100

AmericanCancerSocietyThe Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation would like to celebrate with the American Cancer Society (ACS) as it is turning 100. The American Cancer Society has helped patients and family members deal with cancer and its effects by providing research funding, educational materials and support. To honor these years of dedication to preventing and treating cancer, the American Cancer Society is asking people to “take a Moment AGAINST Silence.” Statistics state that 2 out of 3 people will survive cancer but that is not enough. It should be 3 out of 3 people surviving. That is why the Meso Foundation is standing with the ACS to finish the fight against mesothelioma by taking a Moment AGAINST Silence. Cancer thrives on silence. The Meso Foundation is here to make noise so that everyone knows about mesothelioma and can get the help they need.

The Meso Foundation is proud to be recognized as the national non-profit for mesothelioma by ACS. The American Cancer Society refers patients to the Meso Foundation to make sure that a patient gets un-biased and accurate medical help from Mary Hesdorffer, NP, who has worked in the field of mesothelioma for over sixteen years.  The ACS knows that when they send patients and family members to the Foundation, they are receiving the latest in medical treatments and support. It is through collaborations like this that the Meso Foundation will continue to get make noise and eradicate the suffering of this disease.

 

FROM THE HEADLINES: International Team from the University of Hawai’i Identifies Protein Critical in Development of Mesothelioma

Former Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s grant recipient, Dr. Haining Yang  (University of Hawai’i), is once again making news with the recent discovery of a protein that is activated following exposure to asbestos leading to the development of malignant mesothelioma.  As reported by MedicalXpress.com, Dr. Haining Yang, PhD, and an international team of researchers have identified HMGB1 as a critical protein in the development of malignant mesothelioma. Dr. Yang’s findings are the cover story of the July 1’s Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading cancer research publications.

“We are very excited about this discovery and are extremely pleased that it was also chosen to be the featured cover story,” said Yang. “The next step is to translate this discovery into actual treatments for mesothelioma patients.”

This discovery into the growth of mesothelioma offers scientists an opportunity to develop specific therapies for mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma, a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos is considered one of the most aggressive of all cancers. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, yet available treatments have limited effectiveness. Identifying this biomarker for early detection will help shed light on developing new treatments for mesothelioma prevention and therapy.

Earlier this year this same lab worked collaboratively with others to announce the first gene associated with malignant mesothelioma BAP1. Dr. Giovanni Gaudino from the University of Hawai’i will be discussing BAP1 and its possible utility as a target for therapy and identifying those at high risk to develop mesothelioma at the Meso Foundation’s 2012 Symposium during the “Demystifying Scientific Breakthroughs” panel. It is a very exciting time for mesothelioma research and the promise for further scientific breakthroughs will be the focus of discussion at the Symposium.

The current study was an international effort and included investigators from the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, the John A Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu, the San Raffaele University and Research Institute in Milan, Italy, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and the New York University School of Medicine.