Dudek started the Metro-Minnesota Oncology Research Consortium, which includes an early-phase clinical trial program. His aim is to uncover and develop new therapies for a variety of cancers, including malignant pleural mesothelioma.
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His work is making a difference today. Dudek is currently the principal investigator in two clinical trials involving pleural mesothelioma.
One of those trials is exploring the synergistic effect of the immunotherapy drugs nivalumab (Opdivo) and ramucirumab (Cyramza) for previously-treated mesothelioma patients.
“This strategy — if successful, like we think it will be — could make treatment with chemotherapy obsolete,” Dudek told Asbestos.com. “People can be really excited about this one.”
Dudek has carried an interest in the molecular and cellular biology of cancer since graduating from the Medical University of Poland in 1989. He did his residency in internal medicine at the Pinnacle Health Hospitals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He completed his fellowship in hematology at the University of Minnesota.
He then spent four years at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. There, he developed another highly regarded cancer research program before returning to Minnesota in 2016.
Throughout his career, he always was moved by the number of cancer patients who came to him after chemotherapy had failed elsewhere.
“Patients were coming with a hope to find a better treatment that targeted their cancer,” he said. “The only way to give them hope, or a chance at surviving, was to look to experimental therapeutics. Finding something new and innovative became my motivation.”
His passion to help patients, and the bonds he developed with those patients, has prompted many to stay under his care, regardless of his location. Patients throughout Minnesota followed him to Chicago. And now many of his Chicago-area patients are still seeing him in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“Every time I bring a new therapy, my hope is, this is going to work for this individual, and work better than standard treatment,” he said. “We already know with mesothelioma, there is a low probability of success with chemotherapy.”
Dudek has written several book chapters on targeted cancer therapies and tumor biology. He has been published more than 100 times in peer-reviewed journals on kidney cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.
“I am very hopeful that what we are doing now will really make a difference,” he said. “And I’m hoping that it will change the way we treat mesothelioma.”
Disclaimer: Dr. Arek Z. Dudek has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers. Read More