Ultimately, finding a cure for cancer is the most important goal of research. In the process of searching for a cure, many new treatment protocols have been discovered. These vital discoveries can benefit patients directly, helping to prevent, treat, or even remove cancers from the body. Research into mesothelioma and other forms of cancer is ongoing.
Funding Cancer Research
Cancer research is funded through many different platforms and foundations. Some research is funded directly by the government. Most frequently, this form of funding is provided through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a subdepartment of the National Institutes of Health. The NCI has financial data available for individuals who wish to see how funds are allocated to various research projects.
The World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) also provides a significant amount of funding for cancer research throughout the United States. A number of grants are provided to the research industry. More in-depth funding is available to researchers investigating high-interest topics.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is one of the biggest supporters of cancer research. Through various fundraising programs, the ACS is able to provide research grants. Around 290 grants were awarded for a total of $148 million in research funding throughout 2011.
Additionally, all of the following foundations and organizations provide funding for cancer research in the United States:
- American Association for Cancer Research
- American Brain Tumor Association
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- Cancer Research Foundation
- Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
- Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
- E-Foundation for Cancer Research
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Friends of Cancer Research
- Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- National Brain Tumor Society
- National Foundation for Cancer Research
- National Institute of Health
- Northern California Cancer Center
- Relay For Life
- Tower Cancer Research Foundation
Funding for Mesothelioma Research
A number of organizations fund mesothelioma research directly. These organizations include:
Many questions about this malignant cancer remain to be investigated, although there has been much progress. Mesothelioma remains one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Research is crucial to identifying how mesothelioma develops, what can be done to prevent it, and how it can be eliminated when it occurs. Although mesothelioma is considered to be a rare type of cancer, it is vital to find a cure for this devastating disease.
The NCI supports a number of current trials that focus on exploring treatments for mesothelioma. These important trials help to determine future treatments for mesothelioma, and also help to treat current patients more effectively. A list of currently active trials can be found here.
Recent Mesothelioma Breakthroughs
Research has led to the identification of several promising new treatments for mesothelioma. Several of these treatments involve using traditional cancer treatments in new ways. Others involve using brand new treatment strategies.
Chemotherapy is used for mesothelioma, although it shows less promise in mesothelioma treatment than it does in other forms of cancer. Researchers have identified that the delivery of chemotherapy drugs directly to the affected area provides better results than simply giving chemotherapy drugs via the bloodstream. One particular study1 concluded that the drug vinorelbine was effective for malignant pleural mesothelioma, and had a moderate enough toxicity profile to make it a reasonable choice. A second study identified the possibility for vinorelbine to be used in combination with gemcitabine; this showed potential over vinorelbine alone.
The L-NDDP Trial
In a recent trial, L-NDDP (Platar) was shown to be most effective when administered intrapleurally; the trial was able to produce remission in two patients. Roman Perez-Solar, M.D., the Associate Director for Clinical Oncology and Translational Research at MMC Medical Park in New York, explained this treatment in a letter to mesothelioma lawyer Roger G Worthington. This letter can be found here. Dr. Perez-Solar reports, “The current Phase II study has enrolled 20 patients; 61% have had documented pathologic complete remission on second thoracoscopy.” The treatment showed particular promise in those with low disease progression, so advances in detection are also necessary.
Lovastatin is a cholesterol drug, but it has showed promise in inhibiting mesothelioma cell growth. A study3 released in October 2013 identified that the drug has a synergistic effect when used in combination with gamma-tocotrienol. As a combination, it was shown to be more effective than using the same drugs individually.
Photodynamic therapy uses light energy to kill cancer cells. This form of therapy is delivered by injecting light-activated drugs into the bloodstream. Once the treatment has been delivered, the drugs gather in cancer cells. Then, a red light is implanted inside the chest. This red light activates the light-activated drugs, causing mesothelioma cells to die. This method also limits toxicity. This treatment is outlined in a free PubMed article located here, and is sourced from this study4.
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Immunotherapy has shown promise in the treatment of mesothelioma. Immunotherapy uses antibodies and T-cells to help the immune system fight cancer cells. Various immunotherapies have been shown to be helpful in mesothelioma treatments. An overview of immunotherapy and current research can be found here, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) website. A video explanation is provided by Dr. Stan Riddell. The FHCRC remains one of the most active research centers in the area of immunotherapy.
A recent immunotherapy breakthrough was voted 2013’s most important cancer research breakthrough by Washington-based journal Science. The journal stated that “Immunotherapy marks an entirely different way of treating cancer by targeting the immune system, not the tumor itself. Oncologists, a grounded-in-reality bunch, say a corner has been turned and we won’t be going back.” According to this article on The Independent, the breakthrough has potential benefits for many different types of cancer, not just mesothelioma.
A study5 was able to conclude that dendritic cell-based immunotherapy was much more effective when loaded with tumour-derived exosomes. The full-text version of this study can be accessed here.
The role of gene therapy in cancer treatment has been proven to be important. Gene therapy focuses on repairing faulty genes that may contribute to the development of both mesothelioma and other cancers. One of the best resources on gene therapy breakthroughs is available here; a database is available that includes studies, trials, information, videos, and press releases on the subject.
A September 1999 study6 found that interferon interleukin prevented the growth of mesothelioma cells in mice. In 2011, Dr. Daniel Sterman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine engaged in a trial that used gene therapy to treat Mesothelioma. Nearly 80 percent of patients in the trial responded to therapy. A third study7 showed the benefits of combining gene therapy with other treatment methods. As time goes on, gene therapy shows even more promise in treating cancer, and is poised to become a front-line treatment method.
Universities Participating in Mesothelioma Research
University programs that offer medicine programs serve an important role in cancer research. It is frequently university research studies that are the first to identify potential disease treatment breakthroughs. Several universities heavily involved in cancer research include:
The University of Chicago Medicine
Engages in research in many cancer-related topics. The University of Chicago Medicine is particularly noteworthy for their development in the area of mesothelioma. Their University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center is considered to be a mesothelioma research pioneer within medicine. This article outlines their focus on mesothelioma.
The University of Texas
The University of Texas engages in cancer research covering a broad range of specialties. Their MD Anderson Cancer Center claims to work with more mesothelioma patients than any other cancer center in the United States.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona’s Cancer Center is a leader in cancer research. While they specialize in genetic therapy for many different cancers, they do provide information and research into mesothelioma. The Cancer Center has run trials and studies in both the efficacy of medications, and the viability of future treatment methods.
The University of Maryland
The University of Maryland’s Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC) engages in leading research in the field of mesothelioma. They claim to interact with nearly 1 in 10 patients diagnosed with the disease in the United States. Clinical trials are commonly provided through this cancer center.
Penn Medicine’s Multidisciplinary Mesothelioma Treatment Program stands out as a leader in research, clinical trials, and investigative research. They specialize in bringing many different treatment formats together under a single program, giving patients the best chance of survival and compassionate care.