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Grand Opening of Pacific Meso Center's Research Laboratory, Los Angeles, CA

UCLA Mesothelioma CenterOn 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 of Thoracic 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 pre-disposed individuals.

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.

Dr. Raymond Wong

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 more commonplace.

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 clinical trials.

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.

Categories: Mesothelioma Research

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