Now Available: Watch the Philadelphia Regional Mesothelioma Conference Online

Philadelphia ConferenceThe content from the Meso Foundation’s regional conference, presented as a collaboration between the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, held in Philadelphia on September 26, 2014, is now available for viewing online on the Abramson Cancer Center website.

The conference featured area experts in the field of mesothelioma.

All sessions are now available online at OncoLink.org/Conference/Mesothelioma.

The conference was co-chaired by Mary Hesdorffer, CRNP, of the Meso Foundation, and Joseph Friedberg, MD, and Daniel Sterman, MD, of the Penn’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Program.

Among topics of discussion were clinical trial participation, latest advances in peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma, palliative care, early detection, genetics, coping with mesothelioma, and survivorship.

Speakers included:
Mary Hesdorffer, CRNP, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Joseph Friedberg, MD, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center
Chi Dang, MD, PhD, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center
Richard Alexander, MD, University of Maryland
Lee Krug, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Andreas Rimner, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Daniel Sterman, MD, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center
Suzanne Walker, CRNP, MSN, AOCN, BC, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center
Anil Vachani, MD, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center
Joseph Testa, PhD, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Eleanor Anderson, MD, Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center

The Meso Foundation is hosting a second regional mesothelioma conference with The University of Chicago Medicine on October 10 in Chicago. To learn more about this conference, visit curemeso.org/chicago.

Common Asian Spice Shows Promise in Slowing Progression of Mesothelioma

SpicesIt has recently been discovered that the use of curcumin appears promising in slowing the progression of mesothelioma. As Medical Xpress reports, “Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and the Georg-Speyer-Haus in Frankfurt, Germany, demonstrate that application of curcumin, a derivative of the spice turmeric, and cancer-inhibiting peptides increase levels of a protein inhibitor known to combat the progression of this cancer. Their findings appeared in the Aug. 14 online edition Clinical Cancer Research.”

Medical Xpress goes on to explain, “The culprit in sparking many cancers, particularly mesothelioma, is the intracellular protein and transcription factor STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3). A signal transducer and activator is a pathway for instructing the growth and survival of cells, and a transcription factor is a protein that controls genetic information directing cells how to perform. STAT3 is notorious for sending signals to trigger the onset of human cancers and to fuel their continued growth. The great neutralizer of STAT3 is PIAS3 (protein inhibitor of activated STAT3). PIAS3 possesses the strength to inhibit and block STAT3′s ability to cause cancer.”

As the article continues, the logistics of the study are explained in further detail. “Investigators assessed PIAS3 expression in tissue samples of mesothelioma solid tumors and the protein inhibitor’s subsequent effects on STAT3 activity. Tissue samples came from three different locations in the country, and information logged for each specimen detailed how long the patient lived and the types of mesothelioma they had. Investigators then linked the levels of PIAS3 with STAT3 activity in each sample. Additionally, investigators examined the effects of curcumin and peptides extracted from PIAS3 segments on malignant mesothelioma cells in vitro.”

Medical Xpress spoke with Afshin Dowlati, MD, a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the director of the Center for Cancer Drug Development at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. Dowlati stated, “In those mesothelioma patients where PIAS3 is low, indeed STAT3 is activated. Mesothelioma patients who have low PIAS3 and high STAT3 have a greater chance of dying early. On the flip side, those patients with a high PIAS3 levels have a 44 percent decreased chance of dying in one year, which is substantial.”

In explaining the findings of the study, Medical Xpress continues, “Investigators also found that curcumin and PIAS3 peptides raised PIAS3 levels, which brought down STAT3 activity and caused mesothelioma cells to die. Their study served as proof of principle about the effectiveness of these two compounds in treating malignant mesothelioma, a first step in moving a treatment toward clinical trials. Additionally, their findings demonstrated that PIAS3 could serve as a predictive marker for managing mesothelioma because the disease’s tumors do not always progress in a consistent, predictable manner, even when tumor stages, grades and clinical presentations appear similar.”

Dowlati further explained the results, stating, “Our findings suggest that PIAS3 expression positively affects survival in mesothelioma patients and that PIAS3 activation could become a therapeutic strategy. Our interest for the future is that we want to find better, more simple ways to increase intracellular levels of PIAS3 for malignant mesothelioma through the use of synthetic PIAS3 peptide or curcumin analogs. We must develop a curcumin analog that is absorbable by the human body. Currently, curcumin ingested as the spice turmeric has practically no absorption within the gut.”

Visit Medical Xpress to read the full article.

The Meso Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin Donations

BitcoinThe Meso Foundation is now accepting donations in Bitcoin, in addition to all of the traditional ways to give. The Bitcoin donation page can be found at curemeso.org/bitcoin.

“As more and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, we decided it was important for us to do the same,” said Melinda Kotzian, the chief executive office of the Meso Foundation.

Bitcoin is an online-only, internet currency, started in 2009. Bitcoin donations can be easily and immediately following a donation, converted into any other currency, including the US Dollar.

“We do not want anything to stand in our way of raising funds to fund mesothelioma research, education, support, and advocacy. Our goal is to save lives, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get there,” Ms. Kotzian added.

The Meso Foundation’s bitcoin donation page can be found at curemeso.org/bitcoin.

Meso Foundation’s Annual Report 2013 Released

Annual Report 2013The Meso Foundation recently released its 2013 Annual Report, featuring the organization’s audited financial information, as well as details about its 2013 programs.

According to the report, in 2013, the Meso Foundation spent 86 cents of every dollar on programs versus 14 cents on fundraising and administration.

“The Meso Foundation strives to keep costs to a minimum,” wrote the Foundation’s chief executive officer, Melinda Kotzian.

“As a result of the Foundation’s fiscal responsibility, we have been recognized as a four-star charity through Charity Navigator, named an accredited charity by the Better Business Bureau, and awarded the prestigious 2013 Top-Rated Award for GreatNonprofits,” Ms. Kotzian added.

The Meso Foundation is also listed through the National Cancer Institute as a mesothelioma support service organization, an honor attributed only to a select number of national nonprofit organizations that fit very strict criteria.

In addition to education, support services for patients and their families, and advocacy for increased federal funding of mesothelioma research, the Meso Foundation lists its total research funding at $8.7 million, which to date has yielded 180 articles published in 83 scientific journals.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s 2013 Annual Report is available at curemeso.org/annualreports.

Meso Foundation Program Expenditures Increased to 86% of Budget

Fiscal ResponsibilityAn audit of the Meso Foundation’s 2013 financial statements confirmed an increase of program expenditures to 86% of the Foundation’s budget. Consequently, the amount spent on management and fundraising has decreased to 5% and 9%, respectively.

“We are very proud of this result. When compared to other excellent charities, we spend at least 11% more than they do on programs,” said Melinda Kotzian, the chief executive officer of the Meso Foundation. “Most importantly, this number shows our donors our dedication to the development of life-saving treatments and services for our mesothelioma-affected community.”

The Meso Foundation is the only mesothelioma-related charity to hold a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator and the only mesothelioma charity accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

The complete set of audited 2013 financials will be available on the Meso Foundation’s website in the “About Us” section under “990 Forms and Audits.”

Visit curemeso.org to learn more about the Meso Foundation’s impact.