November 26th at 4:39pm
Setbacks in Mesothelioma Research Possible Due to Closure of the Only Federally-Funded Mesothelioma Program
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) warns that closure of the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB), the only federally-funded program specifically designated for mesothelioma that recently saw its funding cut as a direct result of the sequester (officially known as the Budget Control Act of 2011), may cause setbacks in mesothelioma research.
The NMVB is a virtual biospecimen registry designed to support and facilitate mesothelioma research. The registry, which was housed at the University of Pittsburgh, was a public resource available for use by mesothelioma researchers across the country. Run by Michael Becich, M.D., Ph.D., the NMVB was in its the seventh year of operation with a Federal Funding Notice of Award stating it would be funded until August of 2016 as long as funds were available. In August, Dr. Becich received less than 30-days’ notice, that the funding for the NMVB would be cut as a result of the sequester. This devastating news was delivered by the fiscal management team of the CDC without any input from the program officers responsible for scientifically managing the NMVB at NIOSH. The program was funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and was deemed as an exemplary program in the agency’s 2012 annual report.
The virtual tissue bank was a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Investigators will still be able to request the use of biospecimens until August 31st, 2014 as the NMVB is currently under a “no-cost extension,” but without another funding source, there is no guarantee for future access. The virtual bank contains over 1,200 patient specimens.
“We were bracing for the hits from the sequester,” said Mary Hesdorffer, a nurse practitioner with over 16 years of clinical experience in mesothelioma treatment and the executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, “but we never imagined something as devastating as the obliteration of mesothelioma’s only federally-funded program.”
Mesothelioma is considered one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. With only one FDA approved treatment, patients have few options and research is desperately needed.
“The NMVB has helped numerous researchers make great strides in mesothelioma research; this is a great loss for the mesothelioma community,” added Ms. Hesdorffer.
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year and an estimated one-third were exposed in Navy ships and shipyards.
ABOUT THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION
The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by it. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund peer-reviewed mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer reviewed scientific research to establish more effective treatments for mesothelioma and, ultimately, a cure for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $8.2 million to research.
More information is available at http://www.curemeso.org.