Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Penn Medicine Receives $10 million Award to Study Asbestos Adverse Health Effects and Remediation of Asbestos

The BioRit Asbestos Superfund site is located in Ambler, Pennsylvania.  Ambler is 20 miles north of Philadelphia.

From the late 1880s through the present day, Ambler residents have had either occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos. As a result, both current and former residents of the area face potentially serious long-term health consequences.

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) is an organization whose mission is to effectively translate environmental health sciences research findings into practical health promotion, disease prevention information, tools and resources for our target audiences.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, with the aid of the COEC, has determined that there has been an increase in the rate of mesothelioma in the Ambler area compared to the adjacent zip codes, with women having a greater risk than men.

Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) over the next four years to study asbestos exposure pathways that lead to mesothelioma, the bioremediation of this hazardous material, and mechanisms that lead to asbestos-related diseases.

The Penn Superfund Research and Training Program (SRP) Center, which was established by this grant, evolved as a direct consequence of concerns from the Ambler community. The researchers are hopeful that continued investigation and education will yield more information about exposure pathways that led to these health risks. Click here for more.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dr. Robert Cameron Chairs International Panel of Medical Specialists at 4th Annual Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Robert Cameron
The Pacific Meso Center, in conjunction with The Office of Continuing Medical Education of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, held the 4th International Symposium on Lung-SparingTherapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on June 7, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to once again be a platinum sponsor of this unique medical seminar focusing on rational treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

As in years past, the course organizer and chair of the symposium was thoracic surgeon and pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert Cameron. An ardent supporter of rational lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, and innovator of the pleurectomy/decortication (“PD”) surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron is the founder and director of both the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at the UCLA Medical Center and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

Dr. Cameron discussed how, because of the diffuse nature of mesothelioma tumors, there is no advantage to removing the lung via extrapleural pneumonectomy (“EPP”), a radical surgery which involves removal of the pleura-based tumor along with the adjacent lung, diaphragm and portions of the pericardium. Dr. Cameron explained that, as compared to lung-sparing PD, “there are consequences to extending the surgical field with EPP.” Dr. Cameron pointed to statistics revealing a greater rate of “distant” tumor recurrence associated with EPP. He noted that “distant” recurrences in areas such as the peritoneum are more difficult to treat than “local” recurrences at or near the tumor bed.

In a second presentation, Dr. Cameron addressed the latest developments in intraoperative therapies to attack disease at a cellular level through chemicals such as Betadine, as well as chemotherapy, thermal therapies, light therapies and immune therapies.

Dr. Olga Olevsky
Dr. Olga Olevsky, Oncologist and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, addressed the topic of when is the optimal time to administer Pemetrexed/Cisplatin or Pemetrexed/Carboplatin chemotherapy—before, during or after surgery. She presented the results of studies revealing that there is no statistical advantage to any of the three protocols, but posited that there may be advantages to adjuvant or postoperative administration of chemotherapy because it allows more aggressive initial treatment via surgery and allows for more accurate monitoring of response.

Dr. Percy Lee, Chief of Thoracic Radiation Oncology and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center, gave an informative presentation on postoperative tomotherapy following PD. Dr. Lee explained how he and his team at UCLA work closely with Dr. Cameron to maximize effective delivery of radiation and minimize the risk of radiation toxicity utilizing the latest tomography technology.

A timely presentation regarding the challenges of treating veterans, who are disproportionally affected by mesothelioma, in the world’s largest healthcare system, and how the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center has overcome these challenges was provided by Graciela Hoal, RN, NP.

Dr. Irene I-Lan Wu, Assistant Director of the UCLA Pain Management Center, gave a presentation regarding recent developments in postoperative pain management therapies including intrathecal drug delivery and spinal cord stimulators.

Dr. Cameron speaking with Dr. I-Lan Wu
and Dr. Lee (seated)
International presenters, Dr. Jan von MeerBeeck, Professor of Thoracic Oncology and Director of Thoracic Oncology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and Dr. Joachim Aerts, Chief of Thoracic Oncology at Erasmus Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, Netherlands, gave presentations on recent studies involving state-of-the-art targeted therapies for advanced/inoperable mesothelioma and dendritic cell based immunotherapy.

Updates regarding research into innovative mesothelioma therapies involving mesenchymal stem cells and genes and molecular mechanisms being conducted at the Pacific Meso Center were provided by Research Scientists Raymond Wong, PhD and Irina Ianculescu, PhD.

Pacific Meso Center Executive
Director, Clare Cameron
Presentations regarding the global health risks of asbestos and the continuing need for meaningful bans were provided by Dr. Richard Lemen, Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, and Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

Lastly, Pacific Meso Center Executive Director Clare Cameron gave a presentation about the role of non-profits in the fight against mesothelioma, and provided updates on the many resources available to mesothelioma sufferers through the Pacific Meso Center.

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of the symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks.