We will miss you, Jessica!


Dear friends,

We wanted to share with you the news that our director of government affairs, Jessica Barker, will be, for personal reasons, leaving her position at the Meso Foundation at the end of August. During the three years spent at the Foundation, Jessica has been instrumental in advancing the meso community’s issues on Capitol Hill. She has helped create/solidify relationships on The Hill and developed great partnerships with other organizations.  We are so grateful for all that she has done to help the mesothelioma community.  She will be missed very much!

Although this was a very difficult decision for her, Jessica is looking forward to spending more time at home, with her young children.

Please feel free to contact Jessica with your well wishes by emailing her at jbarker@curemeso.org.


Melinda Kotzian, Chief Executive Officer
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation


Jessica Barker, the director of government affairs at the Meso Foundation, giving a presentation at the 2014 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma

Results of the NGR-hTNF Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Now Available

Find information about the NGR-HTNF pleural mesothelioma clinical trial.Today, MolMed, an Italian pharmaceutical company, released results from its NGR-hTNF for mesothelioma clinical trial. While the trial, which enrolled 400 pleural mesothelioma patients, demonstrated no increases in overall survival of the entire population, it did show an improvement in survival for those patients with a poorer prognosis and whose disease had progressed between first-line chemotherapy and the start of the trial.

Moreover, for this latter group of patients, researchers observed a 40% longer progression-free survival.

Dr. Julie Brahmer, who led the trial at Johns Hopkins (this was a worldwide trial), said that “it is great to see a survival advantage with the addition of a new drug in combination with chemotherapy for mesothelioma.” She added that, “unfortunately the study was not positive for the overall population. It is unclear why this subpopulation would benefit and the whole population would not. I look forward to the full presentation of the results.

“This study is the first of its kind in mesothelioma, and may provide a new treatment option for patients who had cancer growth after standard chemotherapy,” said Lee Krug, MD, the chair of the Board of Directors of the Meso Foundation, and thoracic oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

More information is available through this press release by MolMed.

The Meso Foundation previously wrote about this clinical trial, and discussed the NGR-hTNF clinical trial in one of its “Meet the Mesothelioma Experts” broadcast.

Meet the Mesothelioma Experts: Defactinib, a New Investigational Agent for Mesothelioma

Meet Dr. Joanna C. Horobin, the Chief Medical Officer at Verastem, Inc. in the Meso Foundations ‘Meet the Experts’ series.On April 8 at 9 PM Eastern time, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) will hold a new installment of its ‘Meet the Experts’ series, featuring Dr. Joanna C. Horobin, the Chief Medical Officer at Verastem, Inc., who will discuss the company’s latest investigational agent, defactinib, which is being developed for use in patients with pleural mesothelioma. Those interested in attending via telephone can RSVP by visiting http://www.curemeso.org/experts.

Dr. Horobin will be interviewed by Mary Hesdorffer, Meso Foundation’s executive director and experienced nurse practitioner. The goal of this “Meet the Experts” installment is to learn more about this novel agent, the purpose of which is to delay the time to progression after having a response or stabilization with first-line therapy. Currently, defactinib is available only through its clinical trial.

Dr. Horobin, M.B., Ch.B. has been the Chief Medical Officer at Verastem, Inc. since October 2012.

The Meet the Experts series is a live podcast created by the Meso Foundation with the goal of providing patients, their family members, and other interested parties with the most up-to-date information on mesothelioma treatment and research, directly from the physicians pioneering these advances. Past teleconferences have featured:

Dr. Lee Krug – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Dan Sterman – University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Raffit Hassan – National Cancer Institute
Dr. Julie Brahmer – Johns Hopkins
Dr. Tobias Peikert – Mayo Clinic
Dr. Joseph Friedberg – University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Valerie Rusch – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Melissa Culligan, RN – University of Pennsylvania

The topics, which have included immunotherapy, gene therapy, drugs, experimental mesothelioma treatments, and biomarkers, are usually discussed through an informal interview, focusing on questions important to patients, in particular. Listeners are encouraged to ask questions while listening to the call.

Stay Tuned this Fall for Two Regional Conferences on Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma regional conferences coming fall 2014.Following the successful conclusion of its annual Symposium, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) announced that later this year it will be the host of two regional conferences in Philadelphia and Chicago, for mesothelioma patients, their families, and others interested in learning about the most up-to-date information on mesothelioma treatment. In a cancer like mesothelioma, for which patients generally must travel far and often just to consult with experts, the ability to meet mesothelioma specialists, listen to their talks, and engage with them one-on-one, without leaving the conference venue, is unique , but also of utmost importance.

“Informed and knowledgeable patients generally can make better decisions regarding their treatment and care than those unaware of all options, side-effects, and other considerations,” said Mary Hesdorffer, experienced nurse practitioner and executive director of the Meso Foundation.

The three conferences, organized in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and the University of California San Francisco, are meant to provide patients across the country with similar, albeit condensed, benefits of the organization’s annual Symposium (expert presentations, support sessions, socialization with peers and experts), but with less travel and with only a one-day commitment.

The conferences will be scheduled as follows and more information will be made available a thttp://www.curemeso.org. The Foundation encourages everyone interested to sign up for its e-newsletter, through which it will make detailed conference information, including dates, available in the next few months.

September – at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
October – at the University of Chicago (Chicago)
November – at the University of California San Francisco (San Francisco)

Asbestos Awareness Week: Counteracting Decades of Damage with Research?

AsbestosAwarenessWeek2014During the first week of April, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) will observe Asbestos Awareness Week while raising awareness of the deep damage inflicted by asbestos’ use and the overdue need for life-saving treatments and a cure for those who have already developed, or who will develop, mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. The latency period between asbestos exposure and development of mesothelioma ranges between 20 – 50 years, meaning that patients of today were exposed decades ago, but also that patients of tomorrow have likely already been exposed.

Medical experts consider mesothelioma as one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. With a 5-year survival rate in the single digits, mesothelioma currently has no cure. Approximately 3,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year and an estimated one-third were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards.

Asbestos, a catch-all term to describe a group of naturally-occurring mineral fibers, was used in construction for decades. Workers in a number of industries and occupations were regularly exposed to high amounts of asbestos fibers. Although, the United States has placed heavy regulations on its use, asbestos has still not been completely banned and continues to be used.

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, government buildings, schools, etc. Asbestos has also been found naturally-occurring in the soil in several locations in the United States, sometimes in very close proximity to inhabited areas. When disturbed, asbestos particles become airborne and are easily inhaled. Scientists have identified that no amount of exposure is safe.

“Unfortunately, asbestos’ prevalence has put all of us at risk,” said Mary Hesdorffer, nurse practitioner and executive director of the Meso Foundation.

“Given the extremely long latency period for developing mesothelioma, for thousands of Americans, the damage has already been done — the asbestos has been inhaled. Now it is our responsibility to invest in prevention research and to make sure that if they develop mesothelioma, life-saving treatments and a cure are waiting for them,” added Ms. Hesdorffer.

The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer-reviewed scientific research focused on prevention, early detection, development of effective treatments, and, ultimately, a cure for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $8.7 million to research. More information is available at http://www.curemeso.org.