Response to the posting “Mesothelioma: Finally, a cure called NGR-hTNF?”

Janet I thought that the best way to address this question would be for all of us to look at the abstract and discover what the results of this Phase II Clinical Trial will mean to mesothelioma patients.

This study is promising, but a cure… not yet… A possible new treatment option… maybe. The drug in question holds promise and is an agent that targets the new blood vessels that supply tumors. This trial enrolled 57 mesothelioma patients who had received prior treatment.  This abstract discussed the results of two cohorts of patients who were given this drug on two different schedules. The trial was a Phase II study which means that they knew the safe dose of the drug but the activity was still to be determined.  This new agent was tested against best supportive care which means that patients were randomized to receive comfort measures (i.e. palliative care) and the other group received this drug. This was not a placebo controlled trial but best supportive care which can vary among providers.  The supportive care needs of patients are diverse so I do not think there will be a standard that can be universally applied to a cancer patient population. This drug was reported to be more efficacious than support care measures in 46% of the patients who participated.  In the overall study population (N = 57), median PFS (progression free survival) was 2.8 months. Median progression-free time (stable disease) was 4.7 months in twenty-six patients (46%) who achieved disease control. Median survival was 12.1 months. 54% of the patients did not benefit from NGR-hTNF.

I do suggest that we monitor this drug during its development phase and I would suggest that patients add this to the list of clinical trials that they might consider participation. This trial was small and had two different schedules so if they decide to proceed in testing in mesothelioma they will need to conduct a trial with a large number of mesothelioma patients and all of the subjects treated using the same dose and schedule.I am eagerly awaiting the results of the Vorinostat (Zolinza) trial for 2nd line. Other trials results that are expected during the Spring/Summer would be the trial of Pemetrexed (Alimta)/ Cisplatin and MORAb009 vs Pemetrexed and Cisplatin alone and the large French Intergroup Study looking at the combination of Pemetrexed/Cisplatin/Bevacuzimab(Avastin) vs. {Pemetrexed/Cisplatin alone.

View the abstract here.

~Mary Hesdorffer, NP

Click here to contact Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner or call 877.363.6376

Mesothelioma is Everybody’s Problem and we’re working toward the solution

Mesothelioma is Everybody’s problem and the solution requires a global effort. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation holds a key role in promoting global efforts to find a cure.  The latest grant proposals went out to the reviewers last week, so the process has begun.  I hope that with your help we will be able to fund a good percentage of those grants identified by the reviews as worthy of funding.  This is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job, as I monitor this process from start to finish and share with you the vision that a cure is possible if we just continue to work hard and stimulate brilliant minds to focus on mesothlelioma.

~Mary Hesdorffer, NP

Click here to contact Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner or call 877.363.6376

Research Funding and the Long Road to Drug Discovery

Here is a very interesting article about the man behind Alimta, the first FDA approved drug for mesothelioma treatment.  “His find became tumors’ nemesis”

This article highlights and confirms our need to continue to grow the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s Research Grant Program.  Through our proven peer-review process, we are able to identify the best possible projects and disperse funds quickly and efficiently.  Most recently, the fruits of our labor have become increasingly evident, as more clinical trials based on our basic lab funding are becoming available to mesothelioma patients. We are relying on your generous contributions to help us achieve the progress needed to help mesothelioma patients today.  To contribute, please contact our office at (877) 363-6376 (END-MESO) or visit our donation page.

Follow-Up to NY Times’ article on Palliative Care

In the Sunday Times dated April 11th there were some very thought provoking responses to the article we posted last week regarding palliative care.  I think this is an area of great interest to our patient population and I would like to continue the discussion.  I read with great interest the responses from palliative care experts and I am convinced that so many of you would benefit from requesting that palliative care become part of your expert medical team.  Fran Heller a much respected member of NY Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University will be leading a group as well as meeting with patients and family members who would like expert advice.  There will be many professionals from various disciplines on hand so please take advantage of their expertise.

Letters to the Editor, New York Times, April 10

If you haven’t read our previous blog, take a look here and also make sure to go through the comments sections.

Empowering the Mesothelioma Community

As the time for the Symposium draws near we are all filled with a sense of excitement.  We strive to build upon the momentum gained in prior years and hope that we meet the expectations of both new and seasoned Symposium attendees.  This year we will have a new roundtable composed of patients and healthcare providers.  In this session I hope that we can identify the strengths that allow those with mesothelioma to continue to lead full and rewarding lives.  What does it take to get from the early days of diagnosis to becoming a whole and healthy person who also happens to carry the diagnosis of mesothelioma?  Knowing that you have an incurable disease, do you hope for the best and prepare for the worst?  Is that even possible?  I hope to explore these questions with patients. I also wish to open a dialogue about what it takes to be on the other end of the exam table, as a provider, charged with delivering the news, and then providing hope with reality.  It is a fine balance and the providers we have chosen to partake in this discussion are known for their compassion and honesty.  I hope that by exploring the patient and provider experience we can come away with better communication skills and a better understanding of what it takes to fill either set of shoes.

Physicians’ decision-making style and psychosocial outcomes among cancer survivors. Arora NK, Weaver KE, Clayman ML, Oakley-Girvan I, Potosky AL. Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Dec;77(3):404-12. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

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Measuring therapeutic alliance between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer: the Human Connection Scale. Mack JW, Block SD, Nilsson M, Wright A, Trice E, Friedlander R, Paulk E, Prigerson HG. Cancer. 2009 Jul 15;115(14):3302-11

Which patients improve: characteristics increasing sensitivity to a supportive patient-practitioner relationship. Conboy LA, Macklin E, Kelley J, Kokkotou E, Lembo A, Kaptchuk T. Soc Sci Med. 2010 Feb;70(3):479-84. Epub 2009 Nov 10

Bereavement: addressing challenges faced by advanced cancer patients, their caregivers, and their physicians. Kutner JS, Kilbourn KM. Prim Care. 2009 Dec;36(4):825-44. Review.