Well-Known Mesothelioma Medical Doctor David Sugarbaker Moving From Brigham And Women’s Hospital To Lung Disease Center At Baylor College Of Medicine

A leader in the care of pleural mesothelioma, Dr. David Sugarbaker, will direct the mesothelioma clinical and research program at the Lung Institute, a new comprehensive lung disease center at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

From a March 24, 2014 news report about Dr. Sugarbaker going to Baylor that was posted on BioNews Texas:

Sugarbaker comes to Baylor from Boston, where he served as professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of thoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He will join the Baylor faculty this July and lead the new Lung Institute, multi-specialty center focused on lung disease, at Baylor College of Medicine…..

“Part of what attracted me to Baylor is the opportunity to build something that never has been done before,” he said. “I see a large role for clinical and translational research, with an eye to getting new treatments to patients as soon as possible. Baylor is a leader in genomic research and that will play a key part, as well as the personalized treatment of a patient’s lung disease. This program also will have a strong surgical presence.”…

Sugarbaker has led efforts in malignant pleural mesothelioma, including the banking of frozen samples of more than 1,500 mesotheliomas to help advance the research in molecular markers in the disease. He also has played a leading role in developing the clinical investigation of the role of surgery in cancer therapy trials.

We wish Dr. Sugarbaker the best in his new position at Baylor, and hope he has much success in finding new mesothelioma treatments for patients who have developed this tragic asbestos-related cancer.


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2014 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma: Presentations From Recent Conference Now Online

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (aka “Meso Foundation”) has made available videos of sessions and presentations from its 11th International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which was convened March 5-7, 2014 in Alexandria, Virginia.

From their March 30, 2014 press release, “Presentations from Mesothelioma Conference Now Available Online”:

Some of the available topics include discussions specific to mesothelioma on:
•chemo brain
•post-surgical recovery
•radiation oncology
•becoming an empowered patient
•mesothelioma survivorship
•chemotherapy
•the state of medical research
•pulmonary health
•cancer stem cells
•early detection

All conference content is available at: http://www.curemeso.org/symposium.


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A Few New Immunotherapy Mesothelioma Treatment Options Were Discussed At The European Lung Cancer Conference 2014

Some investigational immunotherapy drugs that act on the programmed cell death pathway in lung cancer patients are now being considered as a new treatment means for patients with mesothelioma.

Several presentations at the recent European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) 2014 in Zurich about these possible new mesothelioma treatments were set forth in the March 27, 2014 article, “Could Immunotherapy Work in Mesothelioma?”, published online by Medscape.

As regards the first study, from this March 2014 article:

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma has the worst prognosis, and is generally considered to be the most aggressive form of the disease, [lead author Aaron Mansfield, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota]commented to Medscape Medical News. Many of these patients have extensive disease and are not eligible for surgery. He suggested that the data showing that these tumors express PDL-1 offers hope that PDL-1 blocking agents may be of benefit in these patients. A clinical trial is already underway, he said.

And later in that same Medscape report we get this summary about another presentation at the 2014 ELCC in Zurich concerning new approaches to treating mesothelioma:

At another session at the meeting, Dean Fennell, PhD, FRCP, chair of thoracic medical oncology at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, reviewed new approaches to the treatment of mesothelioma that are currently under investigation, and said that PD inhibition has really important potential in this disease. He also mentioned the success that had been seen with another immune-based response, which used an antimesothelin immunotoxin in combination with immunosuppression (Sci Transl Med. 2013;5:208ra147). This vaccine-like approach showed “quite spectacular results,” with some patients showing “very significant regression,” he commented.

We will continue to monitor the medical literature for developments as regards mesothelioma treatment options.


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It Appears That Wisconsin Legislators Were “Told” By ALEC How To Draft Asbestos Lawsuits Restrictions Bill Which Is To Be Voted On In March 2014

It is well-established that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are in favor of state statutes which serve to narrow or restrict access to the courts for individuals who have developed asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

To this end, ALEC has pushed for legislation that would allow corporations to not an asbestos lawsuit to proceed to trial in the court system until the person with mesothelioma, for example, files claims with the various relevant asbestos bankrupty “trust funds” (which were set up after an asbestos company went bankrupt, as many companies have done due to their asbestos legal compenation liabilities).

There are many reasons this type of legislation is not fair to that person  –while serving to benefit the responsible asbestos companies which would be defendants in the court trial — with the most obvious one being that most individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma will live only 6 to 18 months from the time they are diagnosed.  Meanwhile, the asbestos bankruptcy claims filing process can take several years from start to finish for the typical occupational-exposure asbestos case.

As regards the most recent ALEC “involvement” with asbestos litigation in the court system, this time in Wisconsin, we get the following from a March 20, 2014 article, “Wisconsin Poised to Pass ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Bill”, published on the PR Watch site (which is a service of the Center for Media and Democracy):

Wisconsin could become the latest state to narrow access to the courts for asbestos victims in a bill up for a vote on March 20, joining a national coordinated effort that can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Andre Jacque, a member of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force, introduced Assembly Bill 19 in April of 2013. A version of the legislation passed the Wisconsin Senate last week on a nearly party line vote, and is now before the Assembly. It resembles the ALEC “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act,” which was adopted as a “model” by members of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force in 2007. In December of 2012, Ohio became the first state to pass the legislation. In the 2013 session, nearly identical legislation has been introduced in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas.

The legislation would benefit corporations like Crown Holdings, a Fortune 500 company with over $8 billion in annual sales that has worked with ALEC for years to legislate its way out of compensating asbestos victims, as well as ALEC member Honeywell International, which has faced significant asbestos liability in recent years….

Sponsors Say the Bill Has Nothing to Do with ALEC?

The Wisconsin bill’s sponsors, Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Glenn Grothman — both ALEC members — deny that ALEC had anything to do with AB 19. Andrew Cook of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council also said his group did not consult with ALEC on the bill.

According to the drafting files, Rep. Jacque asked the Legislative Reference Bureau to draft a bill based on the Ohio legislation. Yet as a member of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force, Rep. Jacque surely knew that the Ohio bill was based off of the ALEC model.

[Footnotes omitted; live links are found at original source]

As state lawmakers elected by the citizens of Wisconsin, these legislators should not be in a position where it appears that they were “told” how to draft legislation which serves the interests of certain corporations while, at the same time, disregards the legal rights of those people in Wisconsin who, unfortunately and due to no fault of their own, have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.


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Global Asbestos Awareness Week: April 1 – April 7, 2014: Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

AsbestosAwarenessWeekMark your calendar now to check in with the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for this important event:

Global Asbestos Awareness Week, April 1-7, 2014, brings together asbestos victims and concerned citizens around the world to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to work towards a global asbestos ban.

In more detail, first, each day the fine folks at ADAO will focus on a different asbestos-related subject and provide a “Mesothelioma Warrior” story for you to read and share.

  • April 1:  Linda Reinstein, “Asbestos: The Toxic Trade Continues.”
  • April 2:  Dr. Richard Lemen, “Asbestos: What Is It?”
  • April 3:  Dr. Arthur Frank, “Why Is Asbestos Bad for My Health?”
  • April 4:  Dr. Ken Takahashi, “Toolkit for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (ARDs).”
  • April 5:  Keeping Workers Safe.
  • April 6:  A Statement from the U.S. Surgeon General.
  • April 7:  Mesothelioma Warriors Speak Out.

In addition, we encourage you to review and sign the Global Asbestos Awareness Week Declaration for a Worldwide Asbestos Ban.

On April 7th, 2014, ADAO will be publishing the Global Asbestos Awareness Week Declaration for a Worldwide Asbestos Ban and list of signatories of those who pledged their support.


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New Therapy Approach Has A Double Effect On Malignant Mesothelioma Cells Says Medical Researchers In Vermont

There seems to be some hopeful news coming out of the Department of Pathology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Vermont.

In January 2014 an article written by some researchers there was published online by the Cancer Prevention Research medical journal.

From the Abstract for this article, “Curcumin: A Double Hit on Malignant Mesothelioma”, we get these basic points:

  • Inflammation is a key mediator in the development of malignant mesothelioma, which has a dismal prognosis and poor therapeutic strategies. Curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenol in turmeric, has been shown to possess anticarcinogenic properties through its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • In the present study, we investigate the role of curcumin in pyroptotic cell death of malignant mesothelioma cells.
  • Our data indicate that curcumin has a double effect on malignant mesothelioma cells through induction of pyroptosis while subsequently protecting against inflammation.

We will watch for more news concerning this innovative approach to treating malignant mesothelioma.


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If Someone You Know Has Or Had Asbestos Mesothelioma, Did They Happen To Smoke Kent Cigarettes In The 1950s?

In October 2013 Mother Jones magazine published an article with this attention getting headline, “Remember When Big Tobacco Sold Asbestos as the ‘Greatest Health Protection’?”.

From that news story by Myron Levin:

It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer—and then bragging about the health benefits. Yet that’s precisely what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented ‘Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos.

Smokers puffed their way through 13 billion Kents between March 1952 and May 1956, when Lorillard changed the filter design. Six decades later, the legal fallout continues—just last month, a Florida jury awarded more than $3.5 million in damages to a former Kent smoker stricken with mesothelioma, an extremely rare and deadly asbestos-related cancer that typically shows up decades after the initial exposures.

A very important characteristic of asbestos-related cancers and diseases is the long delay, or latency period, between the asbestos exposure and the onset of disease. It is usually at least 15 years, and sometimes as long as 40 or 50 years, after the person’s first exposure to asbestos before an asbestos-related condition develops in the exposed person.


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New Medical Study About Mesothelioma Treatment Shows Benefit Of Radiation Therapy Prior To Surgical Procedure

In January 2014 there was some apparent good news regarding how one might medically treat individuals who have developed mesothelioma.

In short, a recent article published by the Journal of Thoracic Oncology suggests that the treatment of mesothelioma with radiation before there is any surgery done can increase survival time in some instances.

From a January 20, 2014 news report, “Radiation Before Surgery More Than Doubles Mesothelioma Survival”:

“The patients in our study experienced shorter treatment, fewer complications and speedier recovery,” says [Dr. John Cho, radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (UHN)]. “The three-year survival rate more than doubled to 72% from 32%.” Mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy that starts in the lining of the lung and progressively restricts and invades the whole organ.

The study assessed a new approach dubbed SMART – Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy – and was completed over four years with 25 patients who had radiation therapy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and surgery at Toronto General Hospital, both part of UHN.

Participants were treated with an accelerated, five-day course of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a specialized technique that conforms the radiation dose around the tumours in 3D while sparing the heart, spine and other healthy tissues. The patients underwent surgery to remove the affected lung the following week.

“It was imperative to do the surgery quickly because the lung is particularly sensitive to radiation toxicity,” says thoracic surgeon Dr. Marc de Perrot [an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and also leads the Toronto Mesothelioma Research Program], also an author of the study….

“These research results offer real hope to mesothelioma patients who have too often been told in the past that they may have only six months to live,” says Dr. de Perrot….

Since the study, Drs. Cho and de Perrot have used the SMART approach to successfully treat 20 more patients.

We are encouraged by this recent medical journal report about radiation followed by surgery as a new method for mesothelioma treatment, and we will watch for further developments as regards this SMART approach pioneered by Dr. Cho and Dr. de Perrot.


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Federal Court Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges Gives Asbestos Defendant Garlock What They Wanted And More, Which Is Unfortunate For Mesothelioma Victims

Last summer we were monitoring a bankruptcy estimation trial for the former asbestos company Garlock Sealing Technologies in Charlotte, North Carolina and being presided over by federal bankruptcy judge George Hodges.

This Garlock Chapter 11 case is In re Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, 10-bk-31607, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte).

And on January 10, 2014 Judge Hodges issued his ruling which was fully in favor of Garlock as reported in this Bloomberg article published on the InsuranceJournal.com website, “EnPro’s Garlock Wins Trial on Asbestos Liability; Judge Hits Claimants’ Lawyers”:

Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, a unit of EnPro Industries Inc., emerged victorious after a trial with official representatives of asbestos personal injury claimants.

Adopting the company’s estimate, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges in Charlotte, North Carolina, concluded that $125 million is the “reasonable and reliable” estimate of present and future liability for mesothelioma claims.

Hodges rejected the claimants’ methodology and experts’ reports who contended the liability was about 10 times larger, or almost $1.3 billion….

Hodges said it was proper to use Garlock’s method of deciding the degree of the company’s “legal liability” by looking at the merits of claims. He rejected the claimants’ method of using Garlock’s historical settlements to extrapolate how much it would cost to settle present and future claims.

The opinion boils down to Hodges’s conclusion that those who became sick had “relatively low exposure” to Garlock’s products and that the company’s liability should be “relatively de minimus.”

Certainly a disappointing result for those individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma after working with and around Garlock’s asbestos-containing products in the past.


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National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health (NIOSH) Study About Deaths From Mesosthelioma And Asbestosis Published In January 2014 Medical Journal

From the Abstract for this recently published 2014 article about the loss of life attributable to asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, “Diseases attributable to asbestos exposure: Years of potential life lost, United States, 1999-2010″, we get these sobering facts about the number of years lost to asbestos cancer and and asbestos disease in the US:

BACKGROUND:

Although asbestos use has been restricted in recent decades, asbestos-associated deaths continue to occur in the United States.

OBJECTIVES:

We evaluated premature mortality and loss of potentially productive years of life attributable to asbestos-associated diseases.

METHODS:

Using 1999-2010 National Center for Health Statistics mortality data, we identified decedents aged ?25 years whose death certificate listed asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma as the underlying cause of death. We computed years of potential life lost to life expectancy (YPLL) and to age 65 (YPLL65 ).

RESULTS:

During 1999-2010, a total of 427,005 YPLL and 55,184 YPLL65 were attributed to asbestosis (56,907 YPLL and 2,167 YPLL65 ), malignant mesothelioma (370,098 YPPL and 53,017 YPLL65 ). Overall and disease-specific asbestos-attributable total YPLL and YPLL65 and median YPLL and YPLL65 per decedent did not change significantly from 1999 to 2010.

CONCLUSIONS:

The continuing occurrence of asbestos-associated diseases and their substantial premature mortality burden underscore the need for maintaining prevention efforts and for ongoing surveillance to monitor temporal trends in these diseases.

For more information about this unfortunate situation, see Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts over at our Asbestos-Mesothelioma.com website.


 

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