Loading...

Follow Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance | Information for .. on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Researchers have found that recurrent rates for mesothelioma can vary widely, with some studies finding recurrence rates after treatment ranging from 10 – 72%. Even patients diagnosed in the earlier stages and who are able to undergo aggressive multimodal treatment have been found to experience recurrence. Because of the rather high likelihood of the cancer recurring, a heavy focus of mesothelioma research is finding optimal second- and third-line treatments for patients who have previously been treated and either experience recurrence or their cancer is unresponsive.

One of the latest clinical trials expected to begin soon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is aiming to test the latest immunotherapy drug, a vaccine called galinpepimut-S (sometimes referred to as the GPS vaccine), in combination with another immunotherapy drug, nivolumab, both of which have shown promising results in extending life expectancies in previous studies.

[[generic-button{type:"mesothelioma-guide",text:"Learn About the Latest Mesothelioma Treatments with a Free Guide",mobileText:"Free @Year Mesothelioma Guide"}]] How the Galinpepimut-S Vaccine Works

The galinpepimut-S vaccine, or GPS vaccine, is noted for targeting the WT1 protein, also known as Wilms tumor-1. In normal, healthy tissues, humans generally express WT1 protein in limited amounts. Over the years, researchers have found that people with mesothelioma and a few other types of cancer generally overexpress the protein. As such, the protein is considered an optimal target for a cancer vaccine.

Cancer vaccines are a type of immunotherapy that elicit an immune system response by targeting a specific protein in the patient. Researchers have been working to make personalized cancer vaccines, as well, which are unique treatments for individual patients based on the idea that each person’s tumors have their own unique genetic makeup. All types of immunotherapy, including cancer vaccines, have been a large focus of cancer research overall, including for mesothelioma.

The GPS vaccine was created by enhancing the immunogenic effects of the WT1 protein by adding four synthetic peptides (molecules that can play a key role in cell activities and are smaller than proteins). In doing so, researchers noted the effect created stability, motivated T cell recognition, and caused immune cells to react against the native WT1. Overall, their pre-development work showed that WT1 could effectively be used as a cancer vaccine in this combination, with pilot studies showing a high immune response rate among patients.

The upcoming clinical trial will utilize the GPS vaccine with nivolumab (Opdivo®), a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. Checkpoint inhibitors work by targeting specific proteins in the cancer cells, like PD-L1, to promote an immune response and stop mesothelioma metastasis. Researchers involved in the new study plan to apply the galinpepimut-S vaccine and nivolumab simultaneously with the belief that nivolumab will enhance the efficacy of GPS by further promoting the immune system’s attack of WT1.

Previous Successes with GPS Vaccine and Nivolumab

Mesothelioma researchers are hopeful for this upcoming clinical trial because of the past success both the GPS vaccine and nivolumab have shown separately in other previous studies.

The most recent GPS vaccine clinical trial was published in 2017 after testing 41 pleural mesothelioma patients between May 2011 and August 2015. The study included mostly patients with epithelioid mesothelioma, though 5% of patients were diagnosed with biphasic mesothelioma or mixed cells. Because of the requirements for WT1 expression, sarcomatoid mesothelioma patients were not eligible for the study.

The galinpepimut-S vaccine was tested as a second-line treatment for patients who had previously undergone mesothelioma surgery, whether an extrapleural pneumonectomy or a type of pleurectomy/decortication, followed by chemotherapy. Some patients also underwent intensity modulated pleural radiotherapy or other types of radiation. On average, about 61 days after these treatments, the GPS vaccine was administered six times every 14 days. The study found that the treatment could be well tolerated, with minimal side effects like nausea.

Researchers found progression-free survival of one year was 33% among patients who didn’t receive the vaccine, and 45% in patients treated with GPS. Median overall survival was 22.8 months for patients administered the vaccine versus 18.3 months for the controlled group who did not receive the vaccine.

Nivolumab, or Opdivo, has also seen promising results in a variety of clinical trials, particularly for recurrent or unresponsive mesothelioma. In some of the recent studies, Opdivo has been tested alone and with another immunotherapy drug ipilimumab for previously treated pleural mesothelioma. The studies found that 50 – 68% of the patients achieved controlled disease with the combination treatment after previously undergoing chemotherapy.

Researchers are optimistic that the upcoming clinical trial will further improve the results found in these and other studies testing the immunotherapy drugs. Finding effective second- and third-line treatments for mesothelioma is imperative to combating the poor prognosis and high rates of recurrence.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A California jury reached a $29 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Cyprus Mines Corporation, a talc supplier. The jury concluded that the responsible companies must pay Teresa Leavitt over $29 million after she was exposed to asbestos through the long-term use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder. Leavitt claims that the talcum powder is the reason that she has developed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos.

The jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson knew that their baby powder was contaminated, as well as the potential risks, but failed to warn consumers like Leavitt. Leavitt had used their talc products for over 30 years, before receiving her cancer diagnosis in August 2017.

As with many other claims against Johnson & Johnson, the company is fighting the verdict and seeking an appeal, asserting that there were “serious procedural and evidentiary errors.” In the past, J&J has referenced decades of testing that has shown their baby powder is asbestos-free and has not caused cancer. However, the growing number of claims against the company suggest otherwise.

[[generic-button{type:"mesothelioma-guide",text:"Learn More About Mesothelioma and Talc Powder in Our Free Guide",mobileText:"Free @Year Mesothelioma Guide"}]] Growing Claims Against Johnson & Johnson

Back in July, a Missouri jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women claiming that asbestos-containing Johnson & Johnson products led to the development of ovarian cancer. The company lost in their attempt to reverse this verdict and their appeal is currently pending. In May, another woman was awarded $21.7 million by a Los Angeles jury after she claimed that asbestos in J&J baby powder led to her mesothelioma diagnosis.

Imerys Talc America, a talc supplier for J&J, voluntarily filed for bankruptcy last month in response to numerous litigation claims about asbestos contamination leading to cancer diagnoses. Rather than fighting the claims, the supplier’s president stated that they felt bankruptcy was the best way to handle the talc-related liabilities.

Issues surrounding J&J’s popular baby powder are not being overlooked. During a regulatory filing last month, Johnson & Johnson stated that it received subpoenas from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Submission to gain additional details about its talc products. The company is being investigated by the U.S. Federal Government based on the asbestos contamination claims.

News agencies have also been investigating after reports emerged that company executives knew about asbestos in their baby powder for decades. A 2017 report confirms that they have been aware of the asbestos issues since the 1970s, and in the meantime, thousands of lawsuits have been brought against the company. However, they continue to deny allegations.

Concerns of Asbestos Use in Talcum Powder

Baby powder is a common product used for many different reasons, such as to help absorb moisture, prevent chafing, preventing rashes, and much more. In many cases, consumers have used the contaminated talc product for years, putting them more at risk of developing cancers like malignant mesothelioma, as a result of long-term asbestos exposure. Not all talcum powder has been contaminated with asbestos, though consumers should be aware that it is a common asbestos product.

Retailers, consumers, federal agencies, the government, and the public are reacting to news like the $29 million verdict. Johnson & Johnson’s stocks have fallen 1% so far. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that Claire’s, a popular children and teen’s store, had been selling cosmetics contaminated with asbestos. The company asserts that they have stopped selling the products and planned to destroy any existing problematic inventory. A testimony has also been brought to the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy regarding asbestos contamination in talc-based personal care products.

With concerns rising, more and more individuals are becoming aware of the dangers of asbestos and the development of cancers like mesothelioma. Efforts to hold companies accountable for knowingly putting consumers at risk continue to expand awareness, which is crucial to achieving a full ban of the carcinogen in the United States.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A California jury reached a $29 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Cyprus Mines Corporation, a talc supplier. The jury concluded that the responsible companies must pay Teresa Leavitt over $29 million after she was exposed to asbestos through the long-term use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder. Leavitt claims that the talcum powder is the reason that she has developed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos.

The jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson knew that their baby powder was contaminated, as well as the potential risks, but failed to warn consumers like Leavitt. Leavitt had used their talc products for over 30 years, before receiving her cancer diagnosis in August 2017.

As with many other claims against Johnson & Johnson, the company is fighting the verdict and seeking an appeal, asserting that there were “serious procedural and evidentiary errors.” In the past, J&J has referenced decades of testing that has shown their baby powder is asbestos-free and has not caused cancer. However, the growing number of claims against the company suggest otherwise.

[[generic-button{type:"mesothelioma-guide",text:"Learn More About Mesothelioma and Talc Powder in Our Free Guide",mobileText:"Free @Year Mesothelioma Guide"}]] Growing Claims Against Johnson & Johnson

Back in July, a Missouri jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women claiming that asbestos-containing Johnson & Johnson products led to the development of ovarian cancer. The company lost in their attempt to reverse this verdict and their appeal is currently pending. In May, another woman was awarded $21.7 million by a Los Angeles jury after she claimed that asbestos in J&J baby powder led to her mesothelioma diagnosis.

Imerys Talc America, a talc supplier for J&J, voluntarily filed for bankruptcy last month in response to numerous litigation claims about asbestos contamination leading to cancer diagnoses. Rather than fighting the claims, the supplier’s president stated that they felt bankruptcy was the best way to handle the talc-related liabilities.

Issues surrounding J&J’s popular baby powder are not being overlooked. During a regulatory filing last month, Johnson & Johnson stated that it received subpoenas from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Submission to gain additional details about its talc products. The company is being investigated by the U.S. Federal Government based on the asbestos contamination claims.

News agencies have also been investigating after reports emerged that company executives knew about asbestos in their baby powder for decades. A 2017 report confirms that they have been aware of the asbestos issues since the 1970s, and in the meantime, thousands of lawsuits have been brought against the company. However, they continue to deny allegations.

Concerns of Asbestos Use in Talcum Powder

Baby powder is a common product used for many different reasons, such as to help absorb moisture, prevent chafing, preventing rashes, and much more. In many cases, consumers have used the contaminated talc product for years, putting them more at risk of developing cancers like malignant mesothelioma, as a result of long-term asbestos exposure. Not all talcum powder has been contaminated with asbestos, though consumers should be aware that it is a common asbestos product.

Retailers, consumers, federal agencies, the government, and the public are reacting to news like the $29 million verdict. Johnson & Johnson’s stocks have fallen 1% so far. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that Claire’s, a popular children and teen’s store, had been selling cosmetics contaminated with asbestos. The company asserts that they have stopped selling the products and planned to destroy any existing problematic inventory. A testimony has also been brought to the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy regarding asbestos contamination in talc-based personal care products.

With concerns rising, more and more individuals are becoming aware of the dangers of asbestos and the development of cancers like mesothelioma. Efforts to hold companies accountable for knowingly putting consumers at risk continue to expand awareness, which is crucial to achieving a full ban of the carcinogen in the United States.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week that the 2017 reports of Claire’s and Justice makeup containing asbestos particles have been confirmed. The presence of these particles in products, targeted to young children and teens, is concerning as asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer.

Results of the FDA’s Asbestos Testing

The FDA is not taking the results of their independent testing lightly and is currently reevaluating the requirements and oversight of the cosmetic industry. Currently, the FDA does not have to approve cosmetics before they go to market, but instead monitors these products and takes action once they've hit the shelves. It was during this post-market surveillance that the FDA became aware of the potentially contaminated products. Both Claire’s and Justice removed the at-risk products from their shelves. Justice voluntarily recalled their eight controversial products in 2017.

The results of the FDA’s testing show that three of the Claire’s products and one of the Justice cosmetics did in fact contain asbestos. The one Justice product was removed from the market in 2017 with their voluntary recall, and the FDA is warning consumers to not use the three asbestos-containing Claire's products. The Claire’s cosmetics are no longer sold in stores, but may still be used by consumers if purchased prior to their 2017 removal.

The following Claire’s products tested positive for asbestos and should not be used by consumers:

  • Claire’s Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
  • Claire’s Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
  • Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17

The FDA has requested Claire’s recalls the products, but the retailer has not yet complied.

This is not the first time that asbestos-contaminated talc has been found in children’s products. In 2015, asbestos was found in children’s crayons and spy kits. Asbestos-contaminated talc has also been the source of numerous lawsuits following exposure to the toxin through use of talcum powder, specifically Johnson & Johnson brand, after numerous consumers began developing ovarian or mesothelioma cancers from exposure. The risk of such lawsuits may be one of the causes behind Claire’s 2018 filing of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

[[generic-button{type:"annette",text:"Have a Question About Asbestos Exposure in Cosmetics? We Can Help.",mobileText:"Asbestos Exposure Questions?"}]] Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Exposure to asbestos-containing talc used in makeup or any asbestos product may cause mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases later in life. Exposure to asbestos is dangerous because of its direct link to the development of mesothelioma cancer. The rare cancer forms after the inhalation or ingestion of microscopic asbestos particles that are then lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It can take 10 – 50 years for the cancer, and its symptoms, to manifest following exposure to asbestos. Exposure to the particles at a young age may put Americans at a greater risk of mesothelioma development, as they may develop the cancer prior to illness and/or death due to other natural causes.

The dark reality of children’s products containing asbestos fibers is cause for concern and lawmakers are taking notice. A 2018 piece of proposed legislation, Children's Product Warning Label Act of 2018, would require that children’s products be asbestos free, or be marked with a warning label. Until such a law is enacted, parents should check their children’s products to ensure they are asbestos free.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Earlier this month, testing for asbestos at McGill Hall at the University of Montana raised concerns about the safety of students, particularly preschoolers who actively attended school in these classrooms. Abatement specialists found concerning levels of asbestos, well above the recommended limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to law, permissible amounts of asbestos should not exceed 5,000 fibers per square centimeter. After swiping a table in one of the classrooms, which had been used and cleaned regularly, specialists found over 15,000 fibers per square centimeter. Other areas of the classrooms contained even higher concentrations of asbestos.

Though 47 preschoolers were eventually moved from the classrooms, parents criticized the school for not taking action early enough. The EPA states that no level of asbestos exposure is considered safe, and it can be decades before health effects from exposure may surface. Recently, new reports came out showing the school last had asbestos inspections and abatement work done in 2011.

Asbestos Abatement at UM

According to public documents available, the most recent asbestos abatement work done at the University of Montana was completed in the summer of 2011. Between that summer and the testing conducted in December 2018, it’s unclear if the school had any other asbestos inspections or testing for the toxin completed, though no public documentation is available.

The 2011 visual inspection notes that the abatement specialists noted a risk of asbestos from various asbestos products in a number of locations at the school including wallboard, sheet vinyl flooring, and mastic, joint compounds and window putty. At the time of the inspection, specialists noted that materials were considered non-friable, meaning they were intact and not releasing any fibers into the air. The specialists took various samples of materials from suspect areas of the building, including bathrooms, a kitchen, and several classrooms. Varying amounts of chrysotile and amosite asbestos, ranging from about 3 – 50% were found in some of the samples in the corridor, kitchen, and bathroom.

Once asbestos was confirmed, the school followed through with abatement work to have the asbestos removed or properly concealed to prevent fibers from becoming airborne. Following abatement, as per federal and state regulations, certified professionals performed a visual inspection to ensure all areas were clean of any potential asbestos debris, as well as took air samples for analysis.

From their samples and visual inspections, abatement specialists concluded that the abatement work was completed satisfactorily and there were no longer asbestos threats in the previously noted areas of the school. Though all the proper regulations were followed by the abatement specialists, the University of Montana only released these documents for a limited area of the school that was inspected prior to potential renovations. Based on the events earlier this month that likely exposed preschoolers to dangerous amounts of asbestos, the toxin is still a problem in many other areas of the school and continues to be a health risk.

[[generic-button{type:"annette",text:"Have a Question About Asbestos Exposure in Schools? We Can Help.",mobileText:"Asbestos Exposure Questions?"}]] The Need for Better Regulations to Prevent Asbestos Exposure at Schools

Unfortunately, the events at the University of Montana are not isolated incidents. Studies have shown thousands of schools across the United States, and even more globally, are still contaminated with dangerous asbestos products. With recent estimates, studies suggest about 15 million students and 1.4 million faculty at these contaminated schools are at risk of exposure.

Though there are a number of regulations in place to help protect students and teachers alike from asbestos, colleges are not regulated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), which requires all school districts to perform inspections in their buildings for asbestos-containing materials and have management plans in place for any asbestos that is found. Per AHERA, asbestos inspections should take place at least once every three years. While colleges do not have to adhere by regulations in place from AHERA, they still must abide by other EPA and OSHA regulations to prevent exposure, like the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), as well as specific state laws like Montana’s Asbestos Control Act.

According to the school website, the University of Montana does have an asbestos maintenance plan in place that was last updated in 2009. The document explains that the school has undergone one full asbestos survey in 1984, which is available for review. The plan further details how asbestos inspections must be completed before any renovation or construction work, with special considerations for certain buildings on campus that already underwent asbestos abatement work. The plan also states personnel will complete periodic surveillance of areas with known asbestos materials, though does not specify frequency.

Overall, incidents like the dangerous levels of exposure at UM highlight the need for more strict asbestos regulations and a ban. Until the toxin is no longer used and old uses of the mineral are better monitored, the public continues to face exposure and serious health risks like mesothelioma.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

From March 25th – 27th, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation will host its annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in Bethesda, Maryland. The Meso Foundation has organized the event since 2004 to help bring the mesothelioma community together, offering patients and loved ones insight to the latest treatments and research, facetime with renowned mesothelioma experts, and the opportunity to connect with others facing similar experiences.

Mesothelioma Experts Present the Latest Research

Over the course of the three-day symposium, dozens of mesothelioma specialists from across the United States will lead panels that provide insight to the latest clinical trials and advancements for mesothelioma.

Leading experts in pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, including Dr. Taylor Ripley, Director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Harvey Pass, Chief of Division of Thoracic Surgery at NYU School of Medicine, will be leading panel discussions on the latest surgical clinical trials for patients. In recent years, many clinical trials have focused on different combinations of therapies before, during, and after surgery to improve the efficacy of the treatment. Several recent studies have tested the impact of radiation before surgery, with some early-phase trials suggesting the combination could make immunotherapy even more effective.

[[generic-button{type:"treatment-alert",text:"Learn More About Current Mesothelioma Clinical Trials.",mobileText:"Help Improve Your Prognosis"}]]

Another important area of mesothelioma research is understanding the genome and genetics of the disease. Researchers have been investigating how DNA may help recognize people who are potentially more susceptible to developing the rare cancer. So far, a number of chromosomal losses have been linked to mesothelioma, with many studies also focusing on the BAP1 gene, a tumor suppressor gene that may help diagnose mesothelioma. Researchers from Loyola University and the Fox Chase Cancer Center will lead a panel discussion on the latest research in this area.

One panel will also focus on the latest updates in screening and diagnostic tests for mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma has a long latency period and nonspecific symptoms, it has long been difficult to diagnose in the earlier stages. A later diagnosis can limit patients’ treatment options and lead to a worse prognosis. As such, various clinical trials have focused on finding new and improved diagnostic tools to detect mesothelioma sooner. Similar to understanding the genetics of the disease, research has focused on biomarkers in the blood as one avenue for earlier diagnosis.

“We will cover all of these topics, and then some, and will do so in a way that makes this complicated information approachable to non-medical people,” said Maja Belamaric, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s director of communications.

“We want everybody to walk away with answers to their questions,” she added.

Bringing the Mesothelioma Community Together

As mesothelioma is only diagnosed in about 3,000 new cases in the United States each year, those facing a diagnosis can often feel isolated and alone. In addition to the expert panel discussions and ability to meet top mesothelioma doctors, the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma allows patients, loved ones, and survivors the opportunity to come together and find the support they need.

Studies have found that being part of a support group or having a strong support system has a positive impact on patients’ quality of life. Meeting others going through a similar experience with the disease can help patients and loved ones receive invaluable tips to cope, strengthen their emotional health, and find hope. While attendees will have the opportunity to interact with panel session leaders and each other, the symposium also offers a dedicated support group session inclusive of patients, new patients, caregivers, loved ones, and bereaved.

Mesothelioma survivor and advocate Heather Von St. James frequently attends these symposiums, and finds the sense of community to be the most rewarding aspect. "The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation's symposium is the best place for the community to come together, support one another and learn about what the future holds for mesothelioma treatment. There is nowhere else that the specialists, patients, and caregivers can come together in one setting, and meet as equals. That is what sets this symposium apart; it’s community.”

Along with the sense of community and togetherness, an important component of the event is Advocacy Day. Raising awareness of the disease, as well as the dangers of asbestos, can prevent future diagnoses and lead to more research funding. This year, members of the mesothelioma community will spend this final day of the symposium meeting with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to share their stories and request funding for the first ever patient registry.

The International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma offers an opportunity for patients, survivors, mesothelioma experts, and others to come together to share knowledge and experiences, and help advance research to one day find a cure.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

One of the prominent areas of mesothelioma research today is around the development of an effective, tolerable, second-line treatment for recurrent cases. Studies have shown mesothelioma recurrence is highly prevalent, even among patients who are able to undergo aggressive primary therapy, like surgery. Some studies have noted recurrence rates ranging from 10 – 72% of patients.

Currently, patients are often treated with a second-line treatment of standard chemotherapy, though researchers have noted this option does little to improve survival or achieve stable disease. Two clinical trials published in January 2019, however, both highlight how the immunotherapy drug Opdivo® could be an effective second-line therapy for achieving stable disease and improving prognosis.

Opdivo and Yervoy for Recurrent Pleural Mesothelioma

One recent study, dubbed INITIATE, focused on testing the efficacy and safety of immunotherapy drugs nivolumab (brand name Opdivo) and ipilimumab (brand name Yervoy®) in pleural mesothelioma patients who had previously been treated with a platinum-based chemotherapy drug, like cisplatin.

Opdivo is a type of immunotherapy called a checkpoint inhibitor, meaning it works by targeting a specific protein in the body (PD-1) that cancer cells often mimic to avoid triggering an immune system response. Yervoy is another type of immunotherapy, a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic proteins injected into the body to help the immune system recognize dangerous cancer cells and attack. In the study, 36 patients received Opdivo every two weeks, followed by Yervoy every six weeks. Depending on an individual’s case and response to the therapy, treatment could be continued for up to two years.

Researchers found that 29% of the participants achieved a partial response, with 38% achieving stable disease. Overall, 68% of the patients were considered to have disease control, meaning the cancer didn’t spread or worsen during treatment. Though 94% of patients experienced side effects from the treatment, researchers noted that most of these were minimal and tolerable. The most common side effects reported included fatigue, skin disorders, and other effects at the injection site.

Because of the efficacy and general tolerability of this immunotherapy combination, researchers stated that the research warranted a larger phase-3 clinical trial to further test the treatment and hopefully will eventually lead to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for wide availability.

[[generic-button{type:"treatment-alert",text:"Learn More About Current Mesothelioma Clinical Trials.",mobileText:"Help Improve Your Prognosis"}]] Clinical Trial Tests Opdivo Alone Vs. Opdivo and Yervoy

Another clinical trial also focused on the efficacy of Opdivo as a second-line mesothelioma treatment. This time, researchers tested the drug alone, as well as compared the response in patients treated with the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy. Patients in this study also had either first-line or second-line treatments of standard chemotherapy with at least one platinum-based drug.

Patients were given Opdivo intravenously every two weeks. For those in the combination group, Yervoy was also given intravenously every six weeks. Researchers hoped to see at least 40% of patients achieve stable disease at the 12-week mark for the trial to be considered worthy of further study. For the 108 eligible patients, researchers found that 44% in the Opdivo group achieved stable disease, while 50% of patients in the combination group saw stable disease.

Unlike the other study, researchers noted a wider range of side effects among the two groups, with some more serious conditions reported. Most common among both groups was asthenia, or lack of energy and strength, which can lead to more complicated muscular issues. In a few cases, patients experienced severe toxicities that contributed to their death. In the three patients, all of whom were treated with the combination therapy, fulminant hepatitis, encephalitis, and acute kidney failure arose. No patients treated with Opdivo alone faced such severe toxicities.

Hope for an Effective Second-Line Treatment

While both of these studies have given researchers and doctors hope for this second-line treatment, further study is required to fully understand potential side effects and the efficacy of the treatment. Immunotherapy is a promising area of study for mesothelioma and other cancers, and researchers continue to test its efficacy as both a first-line and second-line of treatment.

So far, no immunotherapy drugs have achieved FDA approval for the treatment of mesothelioma, but drugs like Keytruda® have been approved for other cancers like non-small cell lung cancer. With more research, doctors hope one or more immunotherapy drugs can be approved and become widely available to patients beyond those eligible for clinical trials.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Asbestos in schools has been a long-standing concern. In 2015, there were 131,000 public and private schools running in the United States, and one-third of them were thought to have contained asbestos. Everything from ceiling tiles to insulation and heating ducts has caused asbestos exposure in schools, putting both teachers and students at risk of developing asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.

Tests Find High Levels of Asbestos at University of Montana

Asbestos products pose the largest risk to school occupants when they are damaged or have faced everyday wear and tear. This releases microscopic asbestos fibers into the air, where they can then be ingested or inhaled, potentially leading to asbestos cancer. In enclosed classrooms and spaces, fibers can become concentrated, making them easily inhaled. In some cases, the carcinogen can enter the HVAC systems, allowing the fibers to be spread quickly through vents and fans. This was the case for preschoolers and teachers of McGill Hall at the University of Montana.

Officials at the University of Montana (UM) conducted testing to determine the presence and amount of asbestos in active classrooms. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has many protections in place for the dangers of asbestos, some specific to schools. According to the EPA, asbestos cleanup is required if there are 5,000 fibers per square centimeter. In the case of McGill Hall, there were 15,000 asbestos fibers per square centimeter from one table swipe. The highest concentration of fibers found atop a light fixture, measured at 110,000 fibers per square centimeter.

Asbestos poses a much smaller risk if the fibers are contained in products that haven’t sustained any damage or wear. However, high concentrations of the toxin were found on surfaces like tables, that students frequently touched and interacted with. Parents were especially concerned that amounts were so high, even after regular cleaning.

[[generic-button{type:"annette",text:"Have a Question About Asbestos Exposure in Schools? We Can Help.",mobileText:"Asbestos Exposure Questions?"}]]

UM officials claim that earlier tests didn’t cause alarm, so they were unsuspecting of such large surface amounts. However, they also claim that the asbestos came through their air system, as a result of long-term degradation. As a long-term issue, faculty and children could have been exposed for a long period of time, putting them at an even higher risk of asbestos illnesses. A worker found a visible contamination problem in a tunnel linked to the preschool, which was never inspected or tested because maintenance workers weren’t required to enter the tunnel. Over a month earlier, crumbling asbestos was also found in an air system linked to McGill, but officials felt that it wasn’t an issue as the air systems were separate.

Parents Criticize UM’s Delayed Reaction to Asbestos

Parents of McGill Hall children are concerned that the test results were shared way too long after asbestos was revealed, and that it took the school too long to move their children from the contaminated areas. UM claims that they moved the 47 preschoolers as soon as possible, after “unacceptable levels” of asbestos became known.

There are many concerns around the use of asbestos in schools. Construction with asbestos products was done before its dangers were fully known. However, since then, it’s become widely recognized that asbestos is a common toxin in schools, especially with older construction. Low amounts of asbestos are still allowed by the EPA, even though research has shown even small amounts can cause asbestos cancer. Furthermore, schools aren’t required to conduct testing for asbestos, despite it being so common.

When parents faced UM officials, they also questioned why ongoing asbestos testing wasn’t done when the building was known to contain asbestos. They demanded explanations for why data showed asbestos amounts significantly higher than the EPA threshold for cleanup.

Removal and handling of asbestos is not simple. It requires trained and certified professionals that know how to handle the carcinogen without causing further exposure. The asbestos found in McGill Hall was also found to be chrysotile and amosite, of which chrysotile is the most dangerous type of the toxin. Paula Short, the Communications Director for UM insists that they are confirming the source of the asbestos, getting rid of the source, and conducting a full-scale cleanup with comprehensive testing.

UM officials continue to stress that they understand the parents’ anxieties and are working hard to remedy the situation. The 50,000-square-foot facility has been shut down, relocating students and around 70 faculty, staff, and other employees until the asbestos has been fully cleaned up.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

February 2nd, 2019 will mark 13 years since my life-saving surgery done by the late Dr. David Sugarbaker. 13 years was not even something I thought I could achieve all those years ago when I was told I had just 15 months to live. Over the last 13 years, I have had so much to be thankful and grateful for. All I have to do is look at my daughter, who was just a tiny, serious baby when I was diagnosed, and now she is taller than I am – a fact she is all too happy to point out at every moment possible! 13 years of scanxiety, 13 years of advocacy, and 13 years of living for today.

A Look Back at the Last 13 Years

When I look back over the years, I think of all the amazing people I have met on this journey. I can’t help but smile when I think of my surgery buddy, Doug, and how we helped each other through that first uncertain year. Doug passed away seven years later. My heart will always hold him close, but will always hurt from the loss. So many wonderful people, and hand-in-hand with that is the loss of many of them. Survivor’s guilt has been a constant companion. I can’t help but feel it when another warrior passes. I know they would never want me to feel that way, but one wonders, why me? It isn’t something I dwell on, but it is there. What helps soothe it is the continuing support from their loved ones, and how much richer my life is for having known these incredible people.

I’ve had 13 years of incredible opportunities that I am eternally grateful for. Going to Washington D.C. and speaking to our representatives and senators about the desperate need for research and funding for mesothelioma. I’ve learned that there is great power in our stories and sharing them is so important. I’ve worked with Greenpeace, done countless podcasts on everything from green cleaning to mental and physical health. I got to be on a nationally syndicated TV show with Soledad O’Brien discussing the dangers of asbestos. I’ve been interviewed and worked with some incredible people and have had such great opportunities to speak and share my story.

[[generic-button{type:"speak-survivor",text:"Connect with Heather",mobileText:"Connect with Heather"}]]

I’ve worked with so many patients and their families and helped bring awareness to mesothelioma and have been recognized for my advocacy by The Points of Light Foundation and WEGO Health. Getting recognized for your hard work is always an incredible feeling. I’m surrounded by people who support me and my mission to help others and bring more awareness to this devastating disease that still too few people know about or understand.

Celebrating Survivorship with Lung Leavin’ Day

13 years of celebrating Lung Leavin’ Day. 13 years of gathering friends and family together to celebrate life. 13 years of writing our fears on a plate – sometimes two – and smashing them into the fire. Over $35,000 raised for mesothelioma research and asbestos education over those years. I think that is what I am most proud of.

My husband and I started the tradition on my first surgery anniversary, just the two of us, outside in subzero temps with a small bonfire and a plate each. I had so many fears that first year that I filled both sides of that plate. As we smashed those plates into the fire, we knew we had to share it with the world. It was something special. Everyone who comes is impacted and takes something away. When we started using the occasion to give back to the community, I felt as though we had come full circle. This is what I was meant to do.

13 years ago, in the dark of night as I laid awake, scared about what would happen on that February 2nd, I prayed to God and asked Him, “Why me?” He told me that I would know in time. And I know now. I’m the lighthouse, the beacon of hope. That is why 13 is lucky, and that is why I’m so thrilled to be celebrating 13 years of surviving mesothelioma.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

An early-phase clinical trial through the National Cancer Institute found promising results for a new immunotherapy drug, avelumab, in the treatment of unresectable pleural mesothelioma. The study tested the safety and efficacy of the drug on 53 mesothelioma patients who had previously been treated with chemotherapy and seen disease progression.

Researchers have struggled to find a suitable second-line treatment for mesothelioma patients who are not responsive to chemotherapy, which is considered the standard of care. Though in many cases, chemotherapy may be administered as a second-line therapy, research has shown mixed results in the treatment improving life expectancy.

Various types of immunotherapy, however, have shown promise as first- and second-line treatments for mesothelioma in clinical trials. Immunotherapy is an emerging treatment that works by boosting the immune system to fight cancer. For this study, researchers used avelumab, a type of monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic immune system proteins that attach to antigens on mesothelioma cancer cells, which allow the immune system to properly identify and attack the cancer cells. Like other monoclonal antibodies, avelumab targets the PD-L1 protein that is common in mesothelioma cells.

[[generic-button{type:"treatment-alert",text:"Learn More About Current Mesothelioma Clinical Trials.",mobileText:"Help Improve Your Prognosis"}]]

Patients in the trial were given avelumab intravenously every two weeks over the course of two months, on average. Overall, positive results were noted in terms of the anti-tumor activity the treatment provided. Researchers found that 26 patients, or 58%, achieved stable disease from the treatment, meaning the cancer didn’t spread or grow. Patients had a 6-month progression-free survival rate of 38% and a 1-year progression-free survival rate of 17.4% Median overall survival was 10.7 months, with 43.8% of patients surviving for one year or longer.

Researchers also noted treatment side effects were minimal in the study. For most patients, fatigue, chills, and/or fever were the most common side effects reported. Some patients with pre-existing conditions experienced some more severe side effects, like pneumonitis (inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs) and hyperthyroidism.

Overall, the researchers concluded that avelumab showed promise as a second-line treatment for pleural mesothelioma, warranting further study. Patients were able to tolerate the treatment with minimal side effects, as well as experience longer survival. Further study is needed to better understand the efficacy of the treatment, especially in combination with other previous therapies, but researchers are hopeful after these promising results.

Immunotherapy continues to be an exciting area of study for mesothelioma and other cancers. As research continues, mesothelioma doctors and researchers hope these drugs can eventually become FDA approved, allowing them to be widely accessible to patients, rather than those just eligible for specific clinical trials.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview