Mesothelioma scientists and medical professionals convene at several conferences every year (one of which is our Symposium, the scientific portion of which will take place next year at the NIH) to update one another and present their most recent findings. These conferences are a crucial aspect of their work, as they provide an opportunity for further validation beyond their publishing journal’s peer-review to ensure that their methods are sound, and that their work is moving in the right direction.
This week, we are reporting from the International Mesothelioma Interest Group’s conference in Ottawa, Canada, where researchers have one thing, and one thing only, on their minds: mesothelioma research.
Global Perspective on Trends in Mesothelioma
This first day of the conference began with a broad overview of mesothelioma trends across the world. Speakers discussed specific numbers of mesothelioma cases and incidence trends in a number of countries. Although such numbers varied greatly, the most surprising find across the board was that in no location are mesothelioma cases declining as many researchers from decades ago hypothesized would happen.
Patterns of Practice, a Global Perspective
In this session, nurses from across the world explained, and then compared, their functions and practices. Nursing roles vary from country to country, but as most of our patients already know, mesothelioma nurses tend to be the “thread” that keeps it all together. Some familiar names and faces seen at our own conferences included Liz Darlison of Mesothelioma UK, Buerkley Rose of the University of Chicago, and Melissa Culligan of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The session ended with two case study discussions that further emphasized some similarities, but also big differences in mesothelioma care around the world.
Towards Personalized Systemic Therapy
As part of the medical oncology track, this session focused on relatively early research into discovering and understanding new ways of targeting mesothelioma tumors, new drugs, and new ways to predict when old drugs can and will work. The idea behind this research is to (eventually) provide clinicians with the ability to treat each person’s cancer based on that cancer’s molecular characteristics, knowing before treatment ever starts whether that treatment will work.
Immunotherapy of Mesothelioma
Immunotherapy in mesothelioma remains a topic of much study and debate. For every one mesothelioma patient who responds to this type of therapy three others don’t. Such limited, albeit promising, efficacy, continues to push researchers into seeking new ways of improving response. They are doing so by testing certain immunotherapy drugs in combination with other immunotherapy drugs or even combining them with chemotherapy. Results from several studies are expected to be released in the next year.