Friday, April 11, 2014

Help Raise Money for Mesothelioma Research with an Exotic Mediterranean Feast & Cabaret Show!

Please join The Pacific Meso Center Saturday, May 3 at Byblos Mediterranean Restaurant in Westwood, California for an evening of delicious food, belly dancing and prizes to help raise money for mesothelioma research.

The evening will be hosted by mesothelioma patient and owner, Mikhaiel Mikhaiel along with The Pacific Meso Center. Mikhaiel was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in November of 2013, and is glad to have this opportunity to raise money and awareness to benefit mesothelioma research.

Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will be donated to benefit important stem cell research conducted by The Pacific Meso Center’s laboratory at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute.

“This evening gives people in the mesothelioma community a different bonding experience in a beautiful Mediterranean setting,” said the Pacific Meso Center executive director Clare Cameron. “We invite everyone to join us for a different, fun event, while helping to support our cutting-edge mesenchymal mesothelioma research program, to help those suffering from this devastating form of cancer.”

You can RSVP here, or contact Olga at (310) 474-8223, or via email at

The Pacific Meso Center (PMC), a division of PHLBI, provides education, advocacy and research, for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos- related cancer, affecting the lining of the chest, the pleura.

For more information, please visit Pacific Meso Center’s website

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monitoring Mesothelin Levels in Those Exposed to Asbestos Could Lead to Earlier Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Cancer Researchers have long been searching for indicators that could hold the key to diagnosing mesothelioma at an early stage. Mesothelioma has a long latency period with initial asbestos exposures which occurred 20 to sometimes 50 years before the cancer develops. Typically, diagnoses occurs when the disease is late stage and therefore patients are presented with a poor prognosis.

In 2007, researchers out of Tokyo began a long term and large scale screening of construction workers and plumbers with a risk of asbestos exposure to determine whether the protein mesothelin (N-ERC/MSLN) could be used as an early detection method. N-ERC/MSLN is a protein present on normal mesothelial cells which line the internal organs and are present throughout the entire body, in mesothelioma and in some other forms of cancer, N-ERC/MSLN is over expressed.

The researchers screened 40,000 potential participants through a construction workers union and a national health insurance association who had a high risk of exposure to asbestos as a result of their occupations in construction and plumbing. Of the 40,000 participants, 62 were identified as being high risk for the development of mesothelioma due to elevated levels of N-ERC/MSLN in their blood.

The participants underwent annual blood tests to monitor N-ERC/MSLN levels. Out of the 62 participants, two have subsequently developed mesothelioma. The remaining participants will continue to be monitored with yearly blood tests.

Early detection can lead to earlier diagnosis of mesothelioma which could allow for earlier treatment. This in turn offers the potential for prolonged survival and better quality of life due to less invasive disease management.  Source

Friday, March 28, 2014

Laparoscopic Cytoreductive Surgery Followed by HIPEC Offers Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma Shorter Recovery Time with Fewer Complications

The standard treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma patients eligible for surgery is cytoreductive surgery (CRS) followed immediately by heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). 

Traditional surgery involves a large incision made in the abdomen in order to remove as much cancer as possible. A study published in the European Journal of Surgical Oncology shows that patients suffering from peritoneal surface malignancy from mesothelioma and other cancers may benefit from less invasive laparoscopic surgical procedures. Laparoscopic procedures require a much smaller incision than traditional surgery and utilize a fiber optic camera so that surgeons may perform the procedure viewing a monitor.

Researchers at the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France compared two groups of patients who underwent CRS followed by HIPEC. Patients in the first group underwent the laparoscopic CRS procedure and experienced far fewer complications and spent an average of a week less in the hospital than those in the second group who underwent the more traditional CRS procedures. Another benefit of the laparoscopic approach is reduced pain due to smaller incision and less hemorrhaging. All participants in the study were diagnosed with early stage disease which had not spread beyond the peritoneum.

Fewer complications, shorter recovery time and reduced pain all contribute to better quality of life, which is of great value to any cancer or surgical patient. Many hospitals and surgical centers now offer the minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure for a wide range of ailments. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients should speak to their surgeon to find out if laparoscopic surgery is an option for them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Michael Johnson and Monster Media Bike Team Dedicate Their Win to Mesothelioma Patient Ronald Hill

Michael Johnson is a fierce and passionate competitor. For many years, he has been one of the most successful and respected bike racers in southern California. Mike learned the dedication and competitiveness necessary to excel in his sport from his Dad, John Johnson. A veteran of the U.S. Marines, John Johnson worked hard during the week as a plumber and then, on the weekends, unleashed his competitive fury in the grueling sport of desert motorcycle racing.

In 2011, John Johnson was forced to compete against a much more serious opponent—mesothelioma cancer. Mike took on his Dad’s battle with cancer as if it was his own. He literally fought for his Dad, and was a constant source of strength and motivation for John to keep fighting. Sadly, John lost his fight against mesothelioma in January 2012.

Michael Johnson, however, has not stopped fighting mesothelioma. Mike and his family have been fighting to improve the diagnosis and treatment of veterans suffering from service-related asbestos illness. They have also worked to raise public awareness of mesothelioma and the need for research. Mike has also gone to great lengths to assist families of mesothelioma sufferers, passing along some of the tough lessons he learned from his Dad’s battle that will help them in their fight against the disease.

For 2014, Mike and his bike racing team, Monster Media Racing, have committed to the following mission: “race together as a unified team, race hard, go for the win, have fun, and help raise awareness in the fight against mesothelioma.” Last weekend, Mike and the team made huge progress toward completing this mission when Mike won the three-day Tour De Murrieta bike race in Murrieta, California. 

While claiming this tremendous personal victory, Mike took the occasion to continue his personal fight against mesothelioma, dedicating the win to Ronald Hill, a career pipefitter, who was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma:

Mr. Ron Hill
“I had the pleasure of meeting Ron and his lovely family this past month. I am extremely honored to be in a position, as the son of meso patient myself, to offer my help and support to Ron. He has a long and tough road ahead, but he’s a great man who is blessed with a very supportive and smart family. Monster Media Racing is here for you sir.”

We congratulate Michael Johnson and Monster Media Racing on their victory and wish them continued success in winning races and raising awareness for mesothelioma sufferers throughout the 2014 season.

Click here to see Michael Johnson’s full race report and dedication.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Massachusetts General Hospital Develops Potential Vaccine for Mesothelioma and Ovarian Cancers

In the hopes of creating a potential vaccine for mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have engineered a protein which has shown prolonged survival in animal models with both types of cancer.

Researchers combined a protein programmed to target an antibody fragment that targets mesothelin, with a protein from tuberculosis bacteria that stimulates the activity of dendritic, or immune cells. The researchers activated the dendritic cells to target tumor cells while remaining inside the patient's body. Typically approaches to developing cancer vaccines using these types of immune cells require extracting cells from the patient’s body, treating them with the vaccination agent, and returning them into the body.

"Many patients with advanced cancers don't have enough functioning immune cells to be harvested to make a vaccine, but our protein can be made in unlimited amounts to work with the immune cells patients do have," explains study co-author Jeffrey Gelfand, MD, senior scientist at the MGH Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center. "We have created a potentially much less expensive approach to making a therapeutic cancer vaccine that, while targeting a single tumor antigen, generates an immune response against multiple antigens.”

The mesothelin-targeting protein binds to mesothelin cells, activates the dendritic cells, and enhances the cells' processing and presentation of several different tumor antigens, inducing a number of T-cell-based immune responses. Treatment with the protein significantly slowed tumor growth and extended survival in mouse models of both tumors.

Mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic cancer all have the potential to be treated with a mesothelin targeting vaccine. "Immunotherapy is generally nontoxic, so this vaccine has the potential of safely extending survival and reducing the effects of these tumors, possibly even cutting the risk of recurrence.”

The MGH team just received a two-year grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program to continue their research.  Source

Friday, February 28, 2014

Substance Found in Turmeric Packs Powerful Punch against Mesothelioma

Curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenol in turmeric, is being studied for its possible application in the treatment and prevention of mesothelioma. Turmeric has long been believed to have anticancer properties due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers at the University of Vermont found that curcumin caused pyroptotic cell death in both mouse and human in vitro models with malignant mesothelioma cell lines. Cell death was induced by the activation of the enzyme caspase-1, and the increased release of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a nuclear protein responsible for organizing DNA and regulating transcription.

Researchers blocked production of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 by inhibiting the NF-κB pathway, a protein responsible for cytokine production and cell survival which has been linked to cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

The researchers also found that the curcumin not only caused mesothelioma cell death, but also protected against inflammation, which could ultimately protect against the spread of the disease.

It should be recognized that the study involved direct delivery of curcumin to mesothelioma cancer cells, and did not attempt to determine the impact of eating turmeric on patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.

You can view the abstract here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Paclitaxel Nanoparticles to Treat Late Stage Peritoneal Mesothelioma

A group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Boston University are trying to find a better treatment for late-stage peritoneal mesothelioma. The group is developing a method to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells with nanoparticles which are absorbed by the tumor cells and release the drugs. The detailed study published February 4, on the BU College of Engineering site is part of a four part series detailing current research projects being performed by the Grinstaff Group.

The Grinstaff Group chose to focus on peritoneal mesothelioma because it is easier to isolate and does not metastasize like other cancers, theoretically making it easier to attack with an innovative drug delivery system, in this case - nanoparticles loaded with paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat mesothelioma.

The nanoparticles are composed of squiggly polymer chains that intertwine and compress into smooth, compact spheres, with the paclitaxel trapped within the chains. When the nanoparticles are exposed to a more acidic environment, the chains loosen allowing water to enter and causing the nanoparticles to expand and release the paclitaxel. Cells “eat” material outside their walls by encircling them within pockets that are acidic to aid in digestion. The researchers hypothesized that the cells would ingest the drug-loaded nanoparticles, expand, and release the drug.

Working with Yolonda Colson, a thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a Harvard Medical School professor of surgery, the researchers injected paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles in mice with established mesothelioma tumors. One group of mice had paclitaxel injected into the abdominal cavity, one group was injected with drug-free nanoparticles, and a third group was injected with paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles.

Two weeks after the injection was administered the tumors were surgically removed, the paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticle treated tumors had almost no mass, while the tumor mass of the other two groups was around two grams. The team then administered one dose a week of the same therapies for an entire month, and found that the median survival of mice receiving the paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles was twice that of the other two groups, with two-thirds showing no tumors at all.

Clinical trials have yet to be performed, but the group is hopeful that nanoparticles could supplement the current chemotherapy treatment, or possibly replace it entirely. “This project is so close to something where we can actually have a benefit for people in the clinical setting and help people in the next five to ten years,” Aaron Colby, a research student working on the project says.

In 11 years, three of the Grinstaff Group’s projects have been commercialized, and at least four privately held biotech companies have spun off from research which started under The Grinstaff Group.