The Meso Foundation Applauds the Newly Formed Deadliest Cancers Caucus

Capitol HillOn May 8, a Dear Colleague letter was sent out by the founding co-chairs of the newly established Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers to invite other Representatives to join the Caucus. The caucus, founded by Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), described its purpose by stating that “because almost half of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are attributable to one of the deadliest cancers, it’s imperative that we monitor implementation and what, if any, additional steps Congress should take to address these most lethal cancers.”

The Meso Foundation applauds the formation of the Caucus. “We are so pleased to see the formation of the Deadliest Cancers Caucus in the House,” said Mary Hesdorffer, expert nurse practitioner and the executive director of the Meso Foundation. “Congress has recognized the need to do more for the most lethal cancers, and we are anxious to see progress. We will continue to dialogue with the Caucus and support them in any way we can.”

We would like to encourage you to request that your respective Congressional Representatives sign on to the letter. The request can be made by filling out a form at curemeso.org.

Measles Virus Successfully Used to Treat Cancer

VaccineIt was recently reported that the Mayo Clinic has successfully used the measles vaccine to eliminate cancer in a patient enrolled in an experimental trial. The patient, 50-year-old Stacy Erholtz, was suffering from blood cancer, which had spread widely throughout her body, when she resorted to a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic last June.

Erholtz’s cancer went into remission and became undetectable following a single, massive dose of the measles vaccine. Erholtz was injected with 100 billion infectious units of the measles virus. A typical dose contains only 10,000 infectious units of the virus. The virus works by attaching itself to tumors in the body and using them as hosts for replication, which eventually kills the cancer cells.

A similar experiment using the measles virus to treat mesothelioma is currently being conducted in a clinical trial by Dr. Tobias Peikert of the Mayo Clinic. The clinical trial uses the measles virus to attack mesothelioma cells in patients with pleural mesothelioma regardless of whether they have undergone prior therapy.

Dr. Peikert is using the same measles virus (MV-NIS) in his clinical trial that was used for Stacy Erholtz. Rather than an intravenous injection, however, patients in Dr. Peikert’s trial have the virus delivered into the pleural cavity. The dose used in the trial is also lower than that used for Erholtz.

“This is extremely exciting,” Dr. Peikert said in response to the successful use of the measles virus for Erholtz. “It is very encouraging to see a convincing clinical response to the virus, although one has to caution that thus far this represents a single case.” Dr. Peikert believes the dose of the virus will likely matter as future measles studies for mesothelioma are conducted.

The Meso Foundation held a previous Meet the Mesothelioma Experts podcast session with Dr. Tobias Peikert to discuss his measles virus clinical trial. You can listen to the session below.

Additionally, a video of Dr. Peikert’s panel from the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma can be viewed here.

Listen to more Meet the Mesothelioma Experts podcasts at curemeso.org/experts and check back for information about upcoming sessions.

Listen to the “Meet the Mesothelioma Experts” Session with Dr. Evan Alley

Dr. Evan Alley of UPennThe most recent installment of the Meso Foundation’s “Meet the Mesothelioma Experts” series is now available for listening on our website. The session was held on May 14 with Dr. Evan Alley of the University of Pennsylvania. During the call, Dr. Alley was interviewed by Mary Hesdorffer, the Meso Foundation’s executive director and experienced nurse practitioner. He discussed his new clinical trial for pleural mesothelioma patients, which is looking into an agent that would inhibit the PD-L1 protein.

PD-L1 is a protein believed to play a role in suppressing the immune system. Generally, it is associated with pregnancy and autoimmune diseases. In cancer, a high tumor expression of PD-L1 is linked with more aggressive disease and a poorer prognosis. Research into PD-L1 inhibitors has already shown much promise in melanoma, renal cell carcinoma and lung cancer, evidencing both tumor shrinkage and durable response, and prompting a number of mesothelioma centers to open trials testing similar agents.

Dr. Alley is part of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program team and the interim chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

You can listen to the session with Dr. Alley, as well as past “Meet the Mesothelioma Experts” session here.

Mission Cure Meso: A Wrap-Up of April Fundraising Events

Cycling for Mesoby Dana Purcell, Development Coordinator, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Spring is here and fundraising events for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation are in full swing! April was a busy month for community fundraisers. Each event had a special connection to mesothelioma and a creative way to bring in funding towards research, education, and advocacy. From California to New York, Meso Foundation staff members and board members were able to see the great efforts of the meso community.

The month started out with an event on April 6th in California, the Rock for Peace Benefit Concert. This event was organized by the Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s Breath of Hope Club and the Bendix family to contribute funds towards the Ken Bendix 2nd Memorial Grant. Over 200 people were in attendance and the concert featured two bands and three soloists, as well as a YouTube video played to raise mesothelioma awareness.

On Saturday morning, April 12th, the Get the Lead Out! 5k/10k and 1 mile walk took place on a perfect spring day. The event was hosted by The Norm Kulig 2Young2Go Foundation, which was formed by siblings who lost their brother, Norm, at the age of 42 to mesothelioma. A portion of the funds raised from this event is given to the Meso Foundation and has been a proven success for many years now. Bill Kasenchar did a fantastic job with the logistics of the event and making it a success yet again!

Get the Lead Out!The last weekend of April included three events for the Foundation, one being the 5k for Michael Bradley. This event was all about community and honoring Michael, who had passed just days before the event. There were family and friends that drove over 12 hours to participate in the 5K. Members of the Varnell, GA community gathered to lend a hand and offer support. Melinda Kotzian, CEO of the Meso Foundation, was there to thank all the attendees and give a special thank you to the Bradley and Neuenschwander family.

Cycling for Meso was the 1st annual event hosted by Gori Julian and Associates in Edwardsville, IL. Participants endured one of three trails that were 3, 10, or 26 miles, making it fun for all riders of different levels to enjoy. The event was able to bring a high amount through sponsorship and proved to be a real community event. Dawn Devine and Chrissy Howard worked so hard getting silent auction items, designing great t-shirts and making the event a true success.

On Sunday, April 27, the 9th Annual Walk for Hope took place in Eienshower, New York. The event is organized each yearby Janice Malkotsis and Meso Foundation board member Erica Iacono in memory of their fathers, Joseph Lombardo and Anthony Iacono. It was a gorgeous day for a long stroll in the park, and the walk was followed by a raffle that included prizes such as New York Met tickets!

The Meso Foundation wants to thank everyone for their incredible efforts and the hard work they put into these events. The hard work our fundraisers put in to these events helps the Foundation get another step closer to our goal!

Visit curemeso.org to see a list of upcoming community events.

Meso Foundation Receives $11,000 Donation from the National Insulation Association

NIA Presents Donation to Meso FoundationOn May 13, Meso Foundation CEO Melinda Kotzian traveled to the Northern Virginia offices of the National Insulation Association (NIA) where she was presented with an $11,000 donation to the Foundation. NIA held a silent auction in April of 2014 as part of their annual convention, through which they raised $22,000. Half of the money was given to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, while the other half was given to the NIA Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement.

Founded in 1953, the National Insulation Association works to keep the commercial and industrial insulation industry up-to-date on industry trends and technological advances. The NIA Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement funds high-quality programs to increase awareness of the many benefits of insulation, and it has developed training and other industry-enriching programs.

Michele M. Jones, the Executive Vice President and CEO of NIA, personally presented the $11,000 donation to Melinda Kotzian. When asked why NIA chose the Meso Foundation as the recipient, Jones said, “We wanted to pick a charity that resonated with our members so that it would add to the meaningfulness of the silent auction and bring out the motivation of our members to donate.”

In its early years, NIA often saw the use of asbestos in insulation. In the 1950s and 60s, most insulators did not know of the risks involved with asbestos exposures. Due to the fact that mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 60 years, some insulators who were exposed to asbestos back then are now developing mesothelioma. Jones continued, “[Mesothelioma] has been prevalent throughout our history and we want to do our part and do what we can for those who have been affected by this disease.”

This donation helps the Meso Foundation maintain and improve its many programs, including its patient support services; development and distribution of online and offline educational materials; funding of the most promising research to develop life-saving treatments; and advocating the federal government for continued and increased funding of research. Upon receiving the donation at NIA, Melinda Kotzian noted, “As such a small organization, this amount makes a huge impact on what we do. Every dollar enables us to continue to operate our life-saving programs.”

To learn more about mesothelioma and Meso Foundation programs, visit curemeso.org.