Scientists may spend nine months waiting for grant funding to support mesothelioma medical research.
“It’s like giving birth,” said Timothy Brauns, associate director at the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital.
But with support from Weitz & Luxenberg, investigators at the VIC have been able to fast-track their mesothelioma cancer research, testing more treatments at a quicker rate.
“By injecting a meaningful personal gift into the VIC effort, we’ve helped to accelerate the center’s approach to cancer immunotherapy. It is our hope that this research will result in treatments that prolong the lives of mesothelioma victims and enhance the quality of their remaining years,” Weitz and Luxenberg said.
Promising Mesothelioma Research
Mesothelioma cancer may take decades to develop, but once it’s diagnosed, death can be swift.
“It’s a cancer that’s been very challenging,” Brauns said. “The life expectancy at diagnosis is a matter of months to maybe a little over a year.”
The VIC team is working to identify combinations of drugs that may work best to focus and empower the immune system to attack mesothelioma tumors. The researchers are testing both drugs already on the market as well as new drugs in development, the center’s director, Dr. Mark Poznansky, said in a prepared statement.
“In one test using mice with an aggressive form of mesothelioma, two drugs used individually showed only modest improvement in survival,” Poznansky said. “When used together, however, survival of the mice was increased by almost three times.”
Equally important is finding a combination therapy that’s safe and tolerable for mesothelioma patients, Brauns said.
“We want to get this into human treatments as fast as possible,” he said.
Moving Toward Clinic
The VIC team aims to find the ideal combination therapy and start a clinical trial, Brauns said.
An initial gift of $300,000 from Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg, founding partners of Weitz and Luxenberg, helped jumpstart the efforts, with continued support through the firm’s iWalk4MESO campaign has helped make the goal feasible, Brauns said.
“We wouldn’t have been able to get into testing as rapidly without the funding,” Brauns said. “We couldn’t do this work without this type of donation.”
Weitz & Luxenberg would like to thank the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital for all the hard work they are doing to fight this terrible disease, and for sending us this story about what they have been able to accomplish.