Pedro, CA - October 5, 2007
Yesterday began the fourth International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma
hosted by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (www.marf.org).
The first day of the symposium was marked by the senate's landmark
passage of the Ban Asbestos Act. Over 115 meetings were scheduled with
representatives and legislators from over 25 states with approximately
120 mesothelioma patients, researchers, families, and advocates who have
been affected by asbestos disease. The volunteers "stormed"
Capitol Hill and were present when Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Johnny
Isakson (R-GA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced the long-awaited
passing of this crucial legislation.
This morning, the medical portion of the symposium began with Dr. Courtney
Broaddus's excellent analogy explaining the creation of a mesothelioma.
Likening the evolution of the cancerous cell to a speeding, out of control
automobile with an unending tank of gas and no way of breaking or slowing
down, all attendees were left with a gripping understanding of mesothelioma
tumors and how they work. Dr. Broaddus works at the Lung Biology Center
at the University of California at San Francisco.
Following Dr. Broaddus was Dr. Harvey Pass of the New York University Cancer
Center. Dr. Pass discussed the latest research and the discovery and validation
of potential genomic-based biomarkers for asbestos-related neoplasms.
As the Chairman of the Science Advisory Board of MARF, Dr. Pass addressed
the mesothelioma patients in the audience as the "shareholders of
MARF" whom he was here to present the latest "deliverables."
Dr. Pass detailed the latest efforts regarding early detection for mesothelioma.
He went into detail about the studies performed on biomarkers in the serum
and plasma of mesothelioma patients and cohorts who have been exposed
to asbestos, including biomarkers such as Osteopontin,. According to Dr.
Pass, "It is important to determine what proteins are in the tissue
of a mesothelioma patient that make the tumor different."
Dr. Pass stressed the need for other clinics, hospitals, and laboratories
to work together and share data. "We cannot discover in isolation.
All the centers have to work together and the passing of
the bill yesterday will work for all of us!"
Dr. Lee Krug and Dr. John Chabot followed Dr. Pass to the podium to discuss
the current multi-modal treatment for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Dr. Krug, from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, compared the
two types of surgeries for pleural mesothelioma, the extra-pleural pneumonectomy
(EPP) and the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D). He also talked about
the survival rates of the surgeries in conjunction with chemotherapy and
radiation as well as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. However, most of his discussion
centered on the EPP with chemotherapy/radiation. In summary, the median
survival rate of patients treated with EPP and chemo/radiation was 13 months.
Dr. Chabot, of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, talked
about his preferred treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma, which includes
a laparotomy with debulking followed by intraperitoneal chemotherapy and
then a second laparotomy with definitive resection and heated intraperitoneal
Completing the morning session was Dr. Hedy Kindler of the University of
Chicago and Mary Hesdorffer, medical liaison of MARF, discussing the benefits
and side effects of Alimta used in conjunction with Cisplatin and/or Carboplatin.
Dr. Kindler went into detail about how an oncologist best determines the
chemotherapy for a mesothelioma patient and how to administer the chemotherapy.
She focused on Alimta, which is the only FDA- approved chemotherapeutic
agent for mesothelioma. She talked about the ongoing clinical trials using
Alimta alone (median survival rate of 10 months) or with Cisplatin (survival
rate of 12 months) or with Cisplatin alone (survival rate of 9 months).
Ms. Hesdorffer went into detail on how best to prepare and address any
side effects from the drugs used in any of these combinations.