Worthington & Caron, PC Supports Mesothelioma Research Through the
Pacific Meso Center
"It is sharing that keeps the engine of humanity working, and shines
a light on the issues that really should be out there for open and unapologetic
– June Breit, mesothelioma patient, warrior, and survivor.
David "Punch" Worthington, Ph.D, went down swinging. Larger than life, he was an outdoorsman, a boxer,
a geneticist, a union organizer, and a father. He left an enduring sense
of social justice as a legacy for his friends, his sons, and the research
lab that bears his name.
On the first anniversary of Punch's death, his son Roger donated $250,000
to the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's research lab named
after Punch. The
Pacific Meso Center is a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, a 501(c)(3)
non-profit medical research institute.
PHLBI's Research Projects
Molecular pathways in carcinogenesis. The long latency period between
asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma provides an opportunity
to study the molecular pathways in the pathogenesis of asbestos-related
cancer. Studying the developmental biology of these tumors in exposed
animals and in established tumor lines will allow targeted therapies to
be devised to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Immunotherapy enhances the body's natural defense system. Other cancer
treatments already utilize immunotherapy. Data and experience suggest
that mesothelioma may be treated by manipulating the immune system. One
treatment option is the immunotoxin interleukin-4 or IL-4. PHLBI currently has eight projects
related to immunotherapy. The first phase of hyperthermia treatment is
already underway, and the overall project is ongoing.
An immediate goal for mesothelioma physicians is controlling the disease
with chronic suppressive therapy. A prime molecule for this type of approach
has been identified as interferon alpha. A small selection of patients
currently undergoing weekly injections of interferon alpha is doing well.
Some are in their second year of treatment.
Anti-inflammatory agents like Celebrex are available for prevention of
colon cancer in high-risk individuals and for treatment of rheumatoid
arthritis. PHLBI's research also focuses on preventing further blood
vessel formation to stop tumor growth. A Celebrex clinical trial is ongoing
at UCLA and is available to asbestos workers who also smoked.
Punch Worthington’s Legacy
According to his son, Punch had "an extraordinary love of life and
a profound respect for people. He thought that the best way to counter
injustice was to stand up and fight it. He was also a scientist and he'd
be proud of our work in both preventing and treating asbestos cancers."
Terry Lynch, political and legislative director for the Asbestos Workers
Union, offered this fitting tribute:
"Reflecting on the one year anniversary of the passing of our dear
friend, it is a tremendous source of pride for me to be associated with
the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on behalf of the Asbestos
Workers Union. It is very appropriate that the centerpiece of PHLBI is
named in honor of Punch. The David 'Punch' Worthington Research
Laboratory is located at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Punch was truly a great American who fought the good fight on many fronts,
including his brave battle with lung cancer. While Punch continues to
be missed, he will always be a tremendous inspiration to all of those
who knew and loved him."
Punch died on August 25, 2006 from
asbestos cancer. His estate donated $90,000 to the Pacific Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
to further prevention, treatment, and cure for asbestos disease. With
his gift in Punch's memory,
Roger Worthington will have given over $750,000 to the Institute.
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