On February 13, 2013,
Pacific Meso Center
officially opened their new research laboratory whose sole focus will
be on the development of innovative therapies and treatment for malignant
pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This lab is the first free-standing laboratory
in the world dedicated to the study of MPM.
The PMC research lab team is headed by surgical oncologist and cardiothoracic surgeon
Robert B. Cameron, M.D., one of the foremost experts in the field of mesothelioma research and
treatment. Dr. Cameron is also the director of the UCLA Comprehensive
Mesothelioma Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Chief
Surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, and a long-time proponent of
lung-sparing surgery for MPM.
In addition to Dr. Cameron, the team at PMC is comprised of a remarkable
group of distinguished physicians and scientists all bringing forth years
of experience in their respective fields to the lab.
Research scientist Raymond Wong, Ph.D. has a background in molecular microbiology
and immunology and has spent the past decade in the research and development of novel
immunotherapy strategies to improve the medical outcome of life-threatening diseases.
Dr. Wong is currently researching the role of immunotherapy in the possibility
of therapeutic cancer vaccines for mesothelioma. If a predictive model
for drug prevention of MPM were found, someday we may be able to vaccinate
Dr. Wong is also researching novel uses for cryotherapy which in the past
has typically been used to address any new tumor recurrences after a patient
has undergone surgery. Dr. Wong’s objective is to investigate the
possibility of using liquid nitrogen to freeze any remaining tumor cells
while the patient is still on the operating table. While surgeons may
attempt to remove all visible tumor, the reality is that there is always
microscopic cancer cells which remain and can potentially grow again.
This tactic could potentially serve a similar role to post-surgical
radiation and be an added assurance against tumor spread.
Molecular biologist Irina Ianculescu, Ph.D. has a background in genetic,
molecular and cellular biology and is applying molecular biology techniques
to the understanding and treatment of mesothelioma. Recent discoveries
of the disease-specific genetic mutations in MPM offer the potential for
individual targeted therapies that could lead to improved treatment and
the possibility of turning mesothelioma into a chronic rather than fatal
disease. Further advances in our understanding of the molecular biology
of MPM are likely to emerge in the near future as genetic study becomes
Dongmei Hou, M.D., Ph.D. whose current research is focused on hyperthermia therapy,
chemotherapy, and immunotherapy has conducted a study using established cell lines
and the response of thermal therapy and cisplatin. The results have shown
promising results and will soon be ready for
Researchers at PMC are also working to find new options for pre-detection and early
diagnosis, one such method under development is a non-invasive breath screening
test that will be able to detect the pre-disposition to mesothelioma from
the microscopic molecules carried in a person’s breath. Early detection
not only offers a better response to treatment, but can add substantial
value to quality of life and in many cases prolong survival.
In addition to the physicians and scientists, PMC is led by Executive Director
Clare Cameron whose primary goals are to raise awareness and to create
the financial success necessary to find better treatments and a cure for
MPM. The newest addition to PMC is Medical Liaison Savannah Cline, RN,
BSN who serves as a valuable resource to mesothelioma patients by giving
them treatment information and a better understanding of the disease by
providing a web-presence through her webinars, blogs, website content.
Pacific Meso Center (PMC) is a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung &
Blood Institute (PHLBI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit medical research organization
established in 2002, and is focused on both the treatment and prevention of MPM.