LOS ANGELES, June 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- An international roster of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) experts came together on Saturday, May 7, in Santa Monica, Calif., to discuss the latest research findings on this rare asbestos-related cancer. The symposium, which was hosted by UCLA and the Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (PHLBI), focused on research aimed at preserving vital lung function in MPM patients. A fatal form of cancer with no cure, mesothelioma affects the pleura, the lining of the chest.
Among the most promising breakthroughs in mesothelioma research is a new immunotherapy treatment called Tremilimumab, which is currently in Phase 2b clinical trials. Previously, immunotherapy had been considered ineffective for treating this disease, but this treatment provides new hope for MPM patients. Jan P. Van MeerBeeck, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Thoracic Oncology at the University of Antwerp in Wilrijkstraat, Belgium, explained that Tremilimumab blocks a specific immune checkpoint receptor, CTLA-4, thus increasing immune activation against tumors. Dr. Van MeerBeeck also discussed another class of promising immunotherapy treatments that block the PD-1 immune checkpoint receptor, which will soon be entering clinical trials for mesothelioma.
A leading expert on MPM and symposium leader, Robert B. Cameron, M.D., FACS, a thoracic surgeon and scientific adviser at the Pacific Meso Center (PMC) said, "There were a number of important research studies relevant for physicians treating mesothelioma patients, but the most promising breakthrough over the last year is in immunotherapy, which has the potential for long-term improvement in outcomes and quality life for these patients. Immunotherapy is extremely exciting because it would be effective for the rest of a patient's life."
Cameron, who is also a professor of clinical cardiothoracic surgery and surgical oncology at UCLA, director of the UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program, and chief of thoracic surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, presented discussions of MPM surgical techniques and intraoperative adjuvant therapies, including use of thermal, chemical, light and immune therapies to treat tumors directly during surgery.
The symposium's other distinguished faculty included: Joachim G. Aerts, MD, Ph.D, Chief, Department of Thoracic Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Rotterdam; Percy Lee, M.D., chief of Thoracic Radiology and director of the Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy Program at UCLA; Olga Olevsky, MD, oncologist Medical Center at UCLA; Raymond Wong, Ph.D. and Irina Ianculescu. Ph.D., research scientists at PHLBI; Irene I-Lan Wu, M.D., assistant clinical professor of the UCLA Pain Management Center; Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH, former assistant surgeon general, USPHS; Graciela Hoal, R.N., N.P, at the Mesothelioma Center for Excellence at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center; Clare Cameron, PHLBI executive director; and Linda Reinstein, president/CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
For further information, contact:
Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology
Director, UCLA Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
(310) 470-8980 (voice)
(310) 470-3742 (fax)
SOURCE The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute