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Category: News

Gene Sequencing Device Promises Improved Treatment for Mesothelioma

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just granted approval to a medical testing device called the Oncomine Dx Target Test, which offers new hope of providing targeted treatment for those diagnosed with all types of malignant mesothelioma. The innovative test is the creation of Thermo Fisher Scientific: it analyzes tissue samples from malignant tumors for the presence of specific genetic mutations in order to provide physicians with a roadmap for the best course of treatment.

In treating mesothelioma and many other forms of cancer, researchers and physicians have come to believe that the future of medicine lies in personalized, targeted care. This entails identifying the unique genetic makeup of a patient’s cancer and matching it to the drug that research has shown to be most effective. The Oncomine Dx Target Test has already been programmed to recognize 23 different genes as well as the drugs that have had the most significant effect on them: now that the device has received FDA approval it will be possible to program it with even more data in the future, offering hope for more comprehensive feedback. The results are provided in just four days’ time, which is a remarkable improvement over current testing protocols.

According to Collin Blakely, a thoracic oncologist at UCSF, “Time is of the essence with … cancer patients. Being able to profile multiple genes all at once and quickly hone in on the key driver is a game changer for how we treat the disease.”

Up ’til now, physicians treating malignant mesothelioma have been largely working blind from a genetic standpoint. They know the location of the cancerous tumors, but they have to wait for extended periods of time to get a closer cellular analysis, and even longer for genetic information. This ties their hands and limits their abilities to provide patients with the very best treatment for their particular variation of the cancer. With a fast-moving cancer like mesothelioma, time is of the essence, so this new innovation is offering hope for more effective, more targeted treatments in the future.


Fatal Impact of Asbestos Exposure Seen in Australian Homeowner Woes

In the 1970s, a contractor who was known as “Mr. Fluffy” used asbestos-contaminated loose insulation in over 1,000 homes in Australia. Since that time there have been numerous reported instances of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in homeowners and residents, and the Australian government took action to mitigate and remove the asbestos to make the homes safer for habitation. In 2013 it was discovered that the contamination remained and that asbestos had seeped into sub-floors and wall crevices within the homes, leading to a program of demolishing those homes. Though some have argued that asbestos exposure is not as dangerous as heath advocates and mesothelioma attorneys indicate, research has proven otherwise, including a recent study revealing that men who lived in the Mr. Fluffy homes have a 2.5 time greater chance of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

The study was recently released by the Australian National University Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, which has been conducting g studies on the homes for many years.  It looks at death registrations and the Australian Cancer Database as well as Medicare date to compare the incidence of mesothelioma among Mr. Fluffy residents with those in the general population.  In addition to the increase in deaths from mesothelioma, the group also identified an increase in cases of prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. A recent study also found that residents of Mr. Fluffy homes are also at higher risk of being diagnosed with mental health issues and considering suicide, in large part because of the psychological and financial distress caused by the risk of illness and the costs of having to relocate or pay for healthcare expenses.

Though the increased risk of mesothelioma shown in this report is still less than that of occupational exposure, the data still supports scientific findings of the dangers of the carcinogenic material. TAsbestos is a mineral that has long been used in construction, in industrial settings and in other applications where strength or resistance to heat and flame is needed. In the United States its use has been widely curtailed since the 1970s, though the material has never been entirely banned. There are roughly 3,500 deaths attributed to mesothelioma in the United States each year.


Success of First Peritoneal Mesothelioma Surgery Predicts Success of Subsequent Operation

Every individual who is confronted with a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma has to sit down and make an important decision: just how aggressively do they want to fight their disease. It is a given that mesothelioma — a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos — is a fatal disease. The median survival rate is less than two years, and the challenges presented by the disease mean that patients often have to choose between quantity of life and quality of life. But a new study conducted by researchers at the City of Hope Cancer Center in California and Wake Forest School of Medicine have come to a startling conclusion about those who choose aggressive surgery to treat their peritoneal mesothelioma – and it is a conclusion that offers some hope and a positive direction about whether to pursue surgery or not.

The scientists recently published an article in the Journal of Surgical Oncology outlining their findings on mesothelioma patients undergoing an aggressive form of surgery known as CRS/HIPEC, or cytoreductive surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy. The procedure combines surgery to remove as much malignant tissue from the patient’s abdomen as possible, and then while the surgical field is still open to pour in a heated chemotherapy solution directly where any mesothelioma cells may have been left behind. What their study revealed was that the longer a patient remained in remission following this procedure, with no return of the cancerous cells, the more successful their second surgery would be once it was required.

Nobody facing mesothelioma wants to go into an aggressive surgery thinking that they will need to have it again in the future. But when patients view their situation realistically and accept that their cancer will eventually come back, the information gleaned from this latest research will prove to be particularly helpful. Knowing that a long gap between the first surgery and the need for a second one means that the second one is likely to also be successful can help provide a helpful sense of the procedure’s worth. The group’s research showed that of the 103 mesothelioma patients they followed, 42 survived for more than two years before having to undergo the procedure again, and they were the ones that had the longest overall survival after their second procedure.

Kentucky Man Learns that Waiting to File a Mesothelioma Claim is a Big Mistake

When you’ve been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you have a lot of decisions to make. Should you seek care close to home or at a major cancer center? What physician should you see? How aggressive should your treatment be? In the midst of these important decisions as well as having to deal with your own grief and shock as well as your families’, the idea of filing a mesothelioma lawsuit may understandably be one of the last things on your mind. Though you certainly have time to let things sink in and get your medical routine settled, you only have a limited amount of time to take legal action: failure to file a claim within a certain amount of time after diagnosis will prohibit you from getting the compensation and justice you deserve, as recently happened to a Kentucky man.

Dale Milby was a long time employee of the Gates Rubber Company. In January of 2016 he filed a lawsuit in Kentucky State Court against his employer seeking damages in the amount of $70 million for pain and suffering, $25 millions for gross negligence, and $80 million for pending death. The company removed the case to federal court in February, but in the course of discovery it was determined that Mr. Milby had actually been diagnosed in August of 2012, 3 1/2 years earlier. Gates moved for summary judgment, and the case was recently heard to determine whether the statute of limitations – which is one year for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Kentucky – had expired.

According to testimony, Mr. Milby’s physician informed him in 2012 that he had already been diagnosed with amyloidosis and paraproteinemia, and that it was likely that he would later be diagnosed with lung cancer and mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos.  Though the court sympathized with Mr. Milby’s plight, they disagreed with his allegation that he “had 13 or more years to begin his lawsuit if desired” – that 13 years is reserved for Workers’ Compensation claims in the state. By delaying in filing his claim, he lost his opportunity to get the compensation to which he would have been entitled.

If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, or somebody you love has suffered from an asbestos-related disease, then it is important that you act quickly to preserve your legal rights.

Researchers’ Discovery May Aid Mesothelioma Treatment

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University has made an exciting discovery regarding the way that cancer metastasizes, and what they’ve learned may aid in the fight against malignant mesothelioma.  According to a report published in the journal Nature Communications, the team has identified the mechanism by which cells break off from cancerous tumors and then spread throughout the body: they have also found a method of slowing this process, and hope to find a way to block it entirely. If they are successfully, it would represent a major breakthrough in the ability to prolong the lives of those diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers.

Though most people believe that it is the primary cancerous tumor that causes a mesothelioma patient’s death, that is not the case. It is the spread of the cancer to other organs. According to a report in The Baltimore Sun, roughly 9 out of 10 cancer deaths are the result of metastases. Researcher Hasini Jayatilaka explains further: “A female patient with breast cancer doesn’t succumb to the disease just because she has a mass on her breast; she succumbs to the disease because it spreads either to the lungs, the liver, the brain, it becomes untreatable. There are really no therapeutics out there right now that directly target the spread of cancer. So what we came up with through our studies was this drug cocktail that could potentially inhibit the spread of cancer.”

In the case of malignant mesothelioma, the real challenge of this or any other type of treatment protocol lies in the fact that the disease has  often already metastasized to an extensive degree before it is ever diagnosed. Mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period that leaves patients facing a short survival by the time the disease is diagnosed. Still, being able to halt or slow any further progress offers the gift of more time, as well as fewer symptoms that impact quality of life.

The researchers found that when a primary tumor’s cancerous cell becomes too dense, the tumor releases two proteins that instruct cells to break off and establish elsewhere in the body. Because the FDA has already approved drugs that block those two particular proteins, it is their hope that they will be able to effectively slow the process, and eventually to stop it with the addition of a third medication.  For those with mesothelioma, the research is extremely encouraging.

Can Medical Marijuana Cure Mesothelioma?

There are a number of legal issues behind the subject of medical marijuana, and this has had a significant impact on the ability of scientists to do much actual research into whether it offers a cure for mesothelioma or any other forms of cancer.   Even the passage of progressive state laws has not helped: because the federal government continues to categorize the substance as a Schedule I drug, researchers have been unable to conduct the kind of rigorous clinical studies that are normally pursued for other potential cures.

A Schedule I drug is one that has a high potential for abuse and no known medical use. This in and of itself presents something of a counterintuitive argument, as mesothelioma patients and others suffering from cancer are well aware that it can ease the symptoms caused by chemotherapy, as well as of the nerve pain caused by surgery and growing malignant tumors. Now a technology company in California has positioned itself to change all that, and to begin a significant study into whether medical marijuana can actually provide a cure for a variety of cancers.

Rob Davidson is the CEO of CURE Pharmaceutical. His company will be partnering with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to conduct research looking at cannaboid molecules to see whether they have an impact on cancer cells. They will begin with in vitro studies, but will also be conducting human studies – something which is much more difficult to do in the United States’ regulatory climate.  “There is strong anecdotal evidence, but we want to put some science into it. First we’ll do an in vitro study and see the effects on cancer cells,” Davidson says. “Then we can get into human trials pretty quickly in Israel.”

With just 3,500 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States per year, the asbestos-related cancer is not going to be the studies’ primary focus. But there are one in four Americans diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, making the search for an effective cure a top priority. CURE has initiated a research and development team specifically dedicated to cannabis formulations and delivery systems. Mesothelioma advocates and researchers are eagerly awaiting the results of their studies.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related cancer, you are desperate for answers, whether to their medical issues, the financial concerns, or their legal rights. We are here to provide you with the resources you need for all of your questions. Contact us today at 1-800-706-5606 for immediate assistance.

Victims of Asbestos Exposure Hope for Effective Treatment in Immunotherapy

When a person has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they are immediately thrust into a world of multiple doctors appointments, diagnostic tests, and treatments. The treatment protocol is generally a multimodality combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy that is designed to reduce the size of the tumors and kill as many cancer cells as possible, both to make the patient more comfortable and to hold the deadly form of cancer at bay for as long as possible. Unfortunately, mesothelioma has proven to be highly resistant to chemotherapy: most patients will relapse a few months after receiving treatment, and the median survival from pleural mesothelioma is generally less than 15 months after the time of diagnosis. But a promising new study out of France was recently announced at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, and it has given new hope to victims of asbestos exposure diagnosed with this rare and deadly disease.

According to Arnaud Scherpereel, MD, PhD and head of the Pulmonary and Thoracic Oncology Department at the University Hospital of Lille in Lille, France, a recent phase II clinical study has shown that in patients whose cancer has returned, treatment with the immunotherapy drug nivolumab has led to a dramatic stop in the worsening of their condition in 44% of patients, and in 50% of those treated with both nivolumab and another drub known as ipilmumab. Dr. Scherpereel says, “Our findings suggest that immunotherapy may provide new hope to patients with relapsed mesothelioma. This randomized phase II trial may be enough to support the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in this setting, but it is too early to conclude whether nivolumab alone or the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab is better.”

The study involved 125 patients who had been diagnosed with advanced stage malignant pleural mesothelioma. The median age of patients was 72 years old, with most receiving at least 3 cycles of either the nivolumab alone or the combination treatment. The 44% and 50% reporting positive results either experienced a lack of growth of their tumors or an actual shrinkage. Though the cancer did eventually return, those who were treated with the immunotherapy drug did have an extended overall survival time.

Knowing about all of the options and resources available to you is essential to those diagnosed with mesothelioma, and our professionals can help. Whether you need medical information or want to know more about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit or a claim against the asbestos bankruptcy trusts, contact us at 1-800-706-5606 to learn more from a friendly compassionate advocate.

Family Prevails in $6.5 Million Mesothelioma Punitive Damages Case

When James Lester Phillips was just 14 years old, he learned how to change automobile brakes. In his high school years that followed, he worked at gas stations repairing and replacing brakes, then went on to work jobs as a maintenance worker, mechanic, and insulator. In all of those jobs he was exposed to asbestos, and as a result he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2012 and died less than a year later. His family filed asbestos lawsuits against multiple defendants, all of whom settled with the exception of Honeywell, International, whose Bendix Corporation had manufactured asbestos brakes. A jury found Honeywell guilty of negligence with malice, and the company was told to pay Phillips family a total of $6.5 million. Honeywell appealed. Now the Court of Appeals of California has upheld that verdict and ordered Honeywell to pay what they owe.

One of the major points of evidence that was raised in the Honeywell trial was a letter that was sent by a Bendix Corporation employee to the company’s asbestos supplier back in 1966. The letter referenced an article that had appeared in Chemical Week magazine that pointed to the dangers of asbestos to those who breathed in its fibers. It took a sarcastic tone, with the author of the letter writing “if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die from it? There’s got to be some cause.” Though Honeywell argued that the letter should not bear any weight, it is exactly the attitude that so many asbestos company executives have been found to possess, and which caused so many asbestos-related deaths. Had these companies valued the lives of those who they were knowingly exposed to the dangers of asbestos, untold numbers of victims would not have been sickened, families would not have lost loved ones, and companies would not have had to pay out billions of dollars in mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos bankruptcy trust claims.

If you or someone you love suffered as a result of this type of asbestos company carelessness, then you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as your medical expenses and other damages. For more information, contact us at 1-800-706-5606 to learn more.

Asbestos Exposure Continues to Be A Significant Risk

Americans tend to think of asbestos-related illnesses as something from the past: a remnant from the days before regulation. They think that diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related cancers are only diagnosed in those that were exposed decades ago, and that those illnesses will eventually fade out of existence because asbestos contamination no longer happens. As nice as it might be to think that, it’s just not true. Asbestos remains in place in numerous locations throughout our infrastructure, and those who are responsible for its removal are often just as careless with the public’s health as were the asbestos companies that made it available in the first place. Even worse, the material continues to be used in the United States today. Recent negligent actions taken by a pair of property owners in Pennsylvania may have exposed hundreds of people to the risk of asbestos-related diseases.

The problem occurred in Churchill, Pennsylvania in the state’s Allegheny County. According to the Health Department there, tons of asbestos-contaminated tiles were carelessly and improperly removed from the site of an abandoned Westinghouse property under the direction of Ramesh and Vikas Jain. The company that did the demolition, Pintura Construction, provided no training for their unlicensed workers, and offered them no protection against inhaling the dangerous asbestos fibers that became airborne as a result of their work. Each one of those workers will need to be apprised of the risk to their health, and monitor themselves for symptoms for decades.

As a result of the violations, the owners have been fined $1.4 million, which represents the “largest monetary fine” ever levied against a company for asbestos-related violations in the county. The construction company was charged a $450,000 fine. There is still no word on where the asbestos-contaminated tiles were taken, which is raising serious concerns because they were stored in flimsy plastic trash bags that risk breaking and exposing the general population to the dangerous contents.

Being exposed to asbestos can change your life forever. It can lead to an incurable, fatal cancer or debilitating disease. If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with an illness as a result, we can help. Call us today at 1-800-706-5606.

Widow Diagnosed with Mesothelioma Wins Right to Pursue Lawsuit

It is a well-established fact that asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that is always considered terminal. It is also true, though less well known, that those who work with asbestos in their workplace often inadvertently carry the deadly material home on their clothing. This has had the unfortunate effect of exposing their family members to the very same risks that they faced in their workplace, and thus to the same risk of disease. Though it is not always an easy path for those family members to pursue legal justice if this occurs, a skilled mesothelioma attorney can successfully help them navigate their way to the compensation that they deserve. A recent case that was heard and decided in the state of California provides an excellent example.

The case involves Wanda L. Beckering, the widow of a former employee of Shell Oil Company. Her late husband’s work had involved work in proximity to asbestos, and as a result when he returned home each day, his clothing, skin and hair were contaminated with the carcinogenic material. When Mrs. Beckering would launder his work clothes, she would inhale those fibers, and was later diagnosed with the fatal condition. When she sought legal justice against Shell Oil, the company moved for summary judgment, claiming that they had no legal duty of care to employees’ families – that their duty did not extend beyond their employees.

When the case was first heard, the court agreed with Shell Oil, and summary judgment was granted. This eventually led to an appeal being heard by the California Supreme Court, which ordered the case back to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of a more recent ruling regarding a similar case. Upon their secondary review, the Appeals Court reversed their original decision and agreed that Shell Oil’s argument against their responsibility to family members was not appropriate. They decided that Bickering was owed a duty of care to protect her from secondary exposure, and that there had been “foreseeably in close and sustained contact with the worker.” The case will be heard and she will get her day in court, before a jury of her peers.

This type of legal victory involves a great deal of legal work, and the expertise of an experienced and knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney who specializes in asbestos law. If you have been the victim of asbestos exposure and need legal representation, call us today at  1-800-706-5606 for more information.