About the Pacific Mesothelioma Center
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) was established in 2012 as a Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute division. This nonprofit has been researching immunotherapy and gene therapy techniques for cancer treatment since 2002.
PMC operates an in-house research laboratory, and in 2015 it set up one of the only tissue banks in the world that collects samples donated by mesothelioma patients. A dedicated lab and tissue bank on site accelerate the center’s research efforts.
The doctors and researchers of PMC have explored using stem cells to design targeted treatments and gene therapies for pleural mesothelioma. The center also sponsored one of the first in-depth studies of recovery after mesothelioma surgery, using repurposed Fitbit technology.
PMC is one of a handful of research centers in the U.S. investigating therapies for mesothelioma.
The Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital also studies immunotherapy for mesothelioma. The Shukla Research Lab at the University of Vermont studies how asbestos causes mesothelioma.
PMC raises funding through events like the annual 5K Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma. People impacted by this terrible disease come together yearly to support research. Informative signs about mesothelioma and memorials to lost loved ones mark the 3.1-mile trail.
In 2015, the event raised more than $100,000, and they raised the bar to $122,000 the following year. 2017 the event set a new record by raising more than $160,000.
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center’s 9th ‘Virtual’ Walk for Meso 2020 raised a record high of $527,000 for mesothelioma research.
Influence of Dr. Robert Cameron, Lung-Sparing Pioneer
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center has an expert scientific advisor in Dr. Robert Cameron, the director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program. He is also a senior professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a co-founder of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
Cameron has distinguished himself within the small community of mesothelioma specialists. He tirelessly advocates for a different approach to pleural mesothelioma treatment.
Traditionally, pleural mesothelioma treatment is designed to either relieve symptoms at the end of a patient’s life or attempt to cure cancer through a combination of aggressive therapies. Aggressive treatment often involves dangerous surgery to remove an affected lung.
In Cameron’s view, doctors should instead aim to treat pleural mesothelioma as a chronic disease. The keystone of this approach is a lung-sparring procedure called a pleurectomy and decortication (P/D). It is still a major tumor-removing surgery, but it carries less risk and has a lower impact on the quality of life than an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
At PMC, doctors typically combine P/D with radiation therapy, chemotherapy and experimental immunotherapies.
Immunotherapy drugs hold promise as a gentler alternative to chemotherapy, just as P/D is a more tolerable procedure than EPP.
Cameron hopes pleural mesothelioma patients will ultimately be able to repeat this treatment plan every few years as needed. This would extend their life expectancy by years, marking a considerable improvement over the average outcomes of current therapies.