LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pacific Meso Center (PMC), a Division of The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), is pleased to acknowledge a generous $100,000 donation from Roger G. Worthington of the Law Office of Worthington & Caron, PC to fund the Center's Mesenchymal Stem Cell Program. The goal of this unique research project is to develop innovative treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the chest.
Mesenchymal stem cells are potent cells found in a variety of tissues, i.e., bone marrow, placenta, and others and can grow and mature into a variety of different cell types. Scientists recently have found that mesenchymal stem cells easily can be harvested from discarded human placentas and this observation has opened a new chapter in stem cell medicine.
Mesenchymal stem cells already are utilized in FDA-approved therapies to modify serious inflammatory autoimmune diseases. "Placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells are intriguing because they, like the placenta, are not easily recognized by the body as foreign tissue, which makes them an excellent source of universally-compatible stem cells for use in cancer therapy," said Dr. Robert Cameron, Scientific Advisor at the PMC, Director of the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. "Modified mesenchymal stem cells can serve as a vehicle for delivering a wide range of molecular and gene therapies directly to the site of cancer, and may be particularly useful in mesothelioma, thymoma, and lung cancer. We plan to test the effects of mesenchymal stem cells on multicellular tumor spheroids -- a custom designed 3-D model for studying mesothelioma treatments in the laboratory."
"After a patient undergoes mesothelioma surgery, much of the tumor is excised, but some cancer cells inevitably remain," Dr. Cameron noted. "To destroy the remaining cancer cells, modified mesenchymal stem cells can be delivered to the exact location where the cancer was surgically removed and destroy any residual cancer cells. This cutting-edge strategy has the potential both to increase the chance of long-term survival and eliminate current treatments with significant side effects, such as radiation and chemotherapy."
"We certainly are pleased to provide the funds to begin this groundbreaking research which holds immense potential to lead to effective treatments not only for mesothelioma but perhaps for many other cancers as well," said Roger Worthington, long-term supporter of the PMC and principal of the Law Office of Worthington and Caron PC.
Clare Cameron, Executive Director of PHLBI, was pleased to accept the donation. "Although this generous gift will get this important research off the ground, we ultimately need additional funds before we can translate this work into a reality for doctors and patients," Ms. Cameron pointed out. "We encourage everyone who can to contribute so that we can speed this development on before even another single person loses his or her battle with this horrible disease."
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SOURCE The Pacific Meso Center