Patients suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other solid tumors may be eligible to participate in clinical trials at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda Maryland involving the use of immunotherapy agents which target the tumor antigen mesothelin. Dr. Raffitt Hassan, M.D., is the head of the Solid Immunotherapy Section and is currently conducting clinical trials involving two different immunotherapy agents for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. The first trial, referred to as a Phase 1B study, is to evaluate the safety and immune response to the IV infusion of CRS-207 combined with Pemetrexed and Cisplatin in patients with pleural mesothelioma. The second trial is a pilot study of Pentostatin plus Cyclophosphamide Immune Depletion to decrease immunogenicity of SS1P in patients with mesothelioma. Like the first trial the agent, Pentostatin is administered by IV infusion. Both trials are being conducted at NCI in Bethesda by Dr. Hassan. For further information contact NCI and Dr. Hassan at www.nih.gov/.
While doctors search for cures and treatment through clinical trials, other studies are also underway. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused almost exclusively from exposure to asbestos. Residents in central Florida who were sometimes exposed to asbestos many years ago are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer as a result of that exposure. According to a University of Pennsylvania press release November 15, 2012, The National Institute of Health has recently awarded a $1.2 million grant to develop an educational program in Philadelphia. Just north of Philadelphia, communities remain at risk of environmental exposure to their long ago closed asbestos factory in Ambler. Researchers are hopeful that the recent grant will provide knowledge and insight gained through continued investigation of a community continuing to suffer from asbestos exposure. They are hopeful this will yield more information about health risks and possible remedies. In addition, educational materials developed from the Ambler case study are intended to be relevant to other communities and workers suffering from exposure to asbestos such as our residents here in Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, Marion, Levy and other central Florida counties.
The National Institute of Health and the University of Pennsylvania are helping lead the way through both clinical trials and grants to help individuals, families, and communities suffering from mesothelioma or lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos. It is our hope that these trials and programs will provide doctors the useful information they need.