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Source: Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

'From Crisis to Cure' for Deadly Asbestos-Related Cancer

- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Initiates Over $1M in New Research

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has awarded its largest series of research grants ever, creating new hope for those who suffer from the disease and those at risk of developing it.

MARF announced today grants of $100,000 each for nine exciting new research projects aimed at curing mesothelioma. MARF's scientific experts selected the nine projects as the most important and promising among 32 high caliber applications received from around the world. For each of these two-year projects, the researcher has agreed to MARF's strict budgeting and progress reporting requirements, the funds for the first year have been paid, and work is now underway. MARF also awarded an additional $135,000 for two special projects in this round of grant funding, bringing the total for new meso research to over $1,000,000.

This research is critically needed. Mesothelioma ("meso") is a severely painful, usually-lethal cancer related to asbestos exposure. The prevalence of asbestos, especially through the mid-70's, has put millions of Americans at risk. Hardest hit are U.S. veterans and workers who were exposed occupationally or in Navy ships and shipyards.

Dangerous exposures continue today. Hundreds of tons of pulverized asbestos were released into the air following the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Experts fear an outbreak of meso around New York. In the tiny mountain town of Libby, Montana, hundreds have died of meso or other asbestos-related diseases. A vermiculite mine there was contaminated with asbestos, and W.R. Grace, the mine's owner, was recently indicted for concealing this danger. This same contaminated vermiculite was shipped to over 200 processing facilities all around the U.S. It exists today as attic insulation in up to 35 million U.S. homes.

MARF's focus on addressing the human tragedy of mesothelioma, by aggressively funding practical research aimed at its cure, is unique against a background of widespread apathy. For decades, the need for research funding to develop effective treatments for meso has been mostly ignored. Even today, the White House and Congress are much more concerned with corporate liability issues and curbing asbestos litigation than curing, or curbing, the disease. For three years, Congress has refused to act on Senator Patty Murray's proposed bill to ban asbestos. Congress has also failed to designate specific funding for meso research, as it has for many other diseases; even while it is intensely focused on exempting W.R. Grace and other asbestos companies from civil liability through the asbestos trust fund bill.

According to Executive Director Chris Hahn, MARF's recent grant to Dr. Brad Black exemplifies MARF's commitment to move from meso crisis to meso cure. Dr. Black will apply one of the most exciting recent developments in meso research to the tragic situation in Libby. Using serum samples from local volunteer study participants, he and his colleagues at Libby's Center for Asbestos Related Disease will test and define levels of the new meso biomarker SMRP (Serum Mesothelin Related Protein) in non-asbestos exposed individuals, and asbestos-exposed but non-cancer bearing individuals. This will provide comparison data crucial to developing SMRP as a powerful new tool for early detection and diagnosis of meso, as well as for monitoring response to treatment and recurrence.

A second MARF grant will support novel immunotherapy research by Dr. Richard S. Kornbluth of the Veterans Medical Research Foundation in San Diego, CA. Dr. Kornbluth is working to formulate a special "immunomodulator" protein which can activate the patient's own immune system to recognize and destroy the meso tumor.

In addition to these two, MARF announced grants to support seven other innovative, promising research projects in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and the Netherlands. Details on all nine new projects are available at

According to Hahn, "These projects demonstrate yet again that there is no shortage of brilliant researchers, innovative trials or new technologies. Our only restraint in curing meso is the lack of funding. This was our most ambitious round of grants ever and was made possible through the generosity of patients and their families, a handful of trial lawyers, and a small group of concerned corporations. We need full participation from all of these interested groups. We also need the federal government's commitment. Meso is a service-related disease, and dedicated, outstanding researchers -- including those working with the VA like Dr. Kornbluth -- are making progress. The VA and other relevant federal agencies should join with MARF in a serious commitment to fund this research."

MARF is the national nonprofit organization whose mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease. For more information, see or contact MARF Executive Director Chris Hahn, 805-560-8942,, or MARF Communications Director Klaus Brauch, 714-969-1481,

Source: Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

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