On July 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Defense Funding Bill that included $16 million in funding that is eligible to be awarded to mesothelioma research.
The House approved the fiscal year 2014 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 2397) on a vote of 315 to 109. The bill includs funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, including the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program in which mesothelioma is a topic area.
Each year, the Meso Foundation advocates to continue and increase this vital funding. As a result, $8.8 million dollars has been given to mesothelioma research to date. This is a victory in today’s tough economic climate.
For more information, read our earlier blog regarding this topic.
By Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner and Executive Director of the Meso Foundation
In 1996 I began my career in clinical research which ultimately led to a focus solely on mesothelioma clinical research. At that time, there was no standard of care and clinical trials were being developed that would lead to some significant changes in the way we approach mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma trials were being written and patients enrolled. Today many of those patients are alive and able to share their experiences from those early efforts. Researchers and patients can now share their collaboration while traveling together through uncharted territories.
During those early years, Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) was being tested at a select number of centers around the country and has now become the standard of care in peritoneal mesothelioma. HIPEC refers to a procedure which starts with a debulking surgery (visible evidence of disease is removed along with a number of involved organs) that is followed by a heated profusion of chemotherapy, delivered directly into the abdomen in an attempt to kill any microscopic disease not removed during the surgical portion of the treatment modality.
The careers of some of the leading doctors in mesothelioma were being established and I am proud to say that most have remained focused on the care of patients with mesothelioma. In 2004, the first ever international meeting focused on peritoneal mesothelioma took place. I was one of the participants and there was a sense of excitement in the room as we looked around and realized how many brilliant minds were focused on the treatment and understanding of peritoneal mesothelioma. Research has continued with a focus on the type of drugs used during HIPEC as well as ways to augment the response. Doctors are now studying the use of both HIPEC and intravenous therapy to see if they can continue to push the response and survival of those with peritoneal mesothelioma. We know what we do today due to the courage of those early patients and the brilliance of those early pioneers in mesothelioma research.
I refer mainly to these doctors though HIPEC has now been introduced and used for a variety of other cancers. I believe it is important that the researchers have access to tissue, learn more about the lived experience of mesothelioma through interaction with mesothelioma families, and that new deliveries and new drugs continue to be tested to build upon what we already know. The Mesothelioma Virtual Tissue Bank is a vital resource to our community and our researchers are the ones who maintain and enrich the bank. If patients are directed to non-mesothelioma research centers then this precious source of data and information will be lost.
I have been part of the historical development of mesothelioma and it is my role to see to it that research continues to be funded and patients continue to be supported as they explore their clinical trial options.
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.