mesothelioma incidence rates have increased in the past 20
years, greater attention is being paid to the life threatening
disease. Recent mesothelioma research news has shed new light
on the rare form of cancer and the latest methods being tested
to help treat the disease. Here are the basics on some recent
news about current and evolving mesothelioma research.
Recent Mesothelioma Research News
In January of 2004 the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
(MARF), the national nonprofit organization whose mission is
to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease, received
a major private gift of $200,000 to be used toward research into
into effective treatments for mesothelioma.
"Patience is not a virtue for those suffering from mesothelioma," said
the donor, Roger G. Worthington, a lawyer who represents mesothelioma
victims and their families. "They need answers, and help,
right now. With this contribution, we send a message of hope that
MARF is working toward the solution."
MARF has received
thousands of donations from individual patients and loved ones
have been tragically affected by the
disease. But among major donors, Worthington is the largest, having
now donated over $600,000 to MARF to support mesothelioma research. "Our
vision is that like Worthington, all the involved parties will
share the mantle of responsibility to cure this disease," Hahn
In February 2004 the first drug regimen that has been proven to
help patients with the asbestos-related cancer live longer was
approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drug, Alimta,
by Eli Lilly and Company, was FDA approved for use with cisplatin
for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Cisplatin
is a standard chemotherapy agent and Alimta is expected to aid
in chemotherapy treatment.
mesothelioma is "one of the most devastating
kinds of cancer a person can have," said Paolo Paoletti, M.D.,
vice president of oncology clinical research at Lilly. "This
is a cancer that is lethal, painful and debilitating."
between 10,000 and 15,000 people worldwide are diagnosed annually
malignant pleural mesothelioma, and that number is
increasing. Most people don’t find out that they have malignant
pleural mesothelioma until the disease has progressed to an advanced
stage when treatment with surgery or radiation is not an option.
Alimta/cisplatin was compared to cisplatin alone in a trial of
448 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma from 19 countries.
Results showed overall survival was increased 30 percent (12.1
months for Alimta/cisplatin versus 9.3 months for cisplatin alone),
and that 50.3 percent of patients treated with Alimta/cisplatin
were alive a year later compared to 38.0 percent treated with
cisplatin alone. Both the median and one-year rate of survival
were statistically significant.
"For the first time ever we have proof that a chemotherapeutic
regimen helps patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma live
longer -- that's a big deal," said Claude Denham, M.D. a study
co-investigator for US Oncology and a medical oncologist with Texas
Oncology in Dallas. In addition, according to research findings,
there was an improvement in lung function (forced vital capacity)
on the Alimta/cisplatin arm compared to the cisplatin (or control)
In October 2004, a bill, which would have required companies that
manufactured or used asbestos to contribute money to a fund to
help victims of asbestos, was put to rest. The bill proposed that,
in exchange for the payments, the companies would be shielded from
civil liability. It met with high opposition and struggled in congress
until it was finally voted down.
In May 2005, the U.S. senate embraced the need to fund research
for detection, prevention, treatment and cure of mesothelioma by
proposing SB 852. SB 852 is the proposed Fairness in Asbestos Injury
Resolution Act, recently amended to inclue a National Mesothelioma
Research and Treatment Program.
The bill would
give $29 million per year for 10 years to mesothelioma research.
the $29 million, the asbestos trust fund contributors
would donate $17 million per year, and the government run National
Institutes of Health would give $12 million per year. The program
would also give $2.5 million per year each to ten national medical
centers for research on the detection, prevention, treatment and
cure of mesothelioma. The centers would be chosen based on a competitive
peer review process that would evaluate things like the centers’ track
record for exemplary laboratory and clinical research, geographic
distribution, proximity to high incidence areas, and affiliation
with Veterans Administration hospitals.
would also establish a mesothelioma registry and a tissue bank.
would help collect data on patients’ symptoms,
treatment, outcomes and quality of life and so far the United States
doesn’t have a system for tracking the disease. The Tissue
Bank would help researchers study blood and tissue in the effort
to unlock the mysteries on how to control this deadly cancer.
Mesothelioma research and legislature is a hot topic in the news
and this site will be periodically updated with the latest mesothelioma
research news as it develops.
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