Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.

While there is still no cure for mesothelioma, several of the top cancer centers in the country are tackling the problem head on. There have been great improvements in just the last decade in the ability to detect the disease earlier, and to manage and slow its progression. This is not a cure, but it is progress.

In addition to my own research here at the University of Rochester, interesting work is taking place at MD Anderson in Houston and at the Langone Medical Center in New York City.

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Researchers at MD Anderson are taking several different approaches to conquering mesothelioma. In addition to looking at more precise ways to diagnose the disease, they are exploring radiation therapy, which targets cancer cells while doing minimal damage to nearby healthy cells, and targeted drugs, or “agents,” that work with a patient’s immune system to fight the cancer.

New York University’s Langone Medical Center

In a fascinating development, the Langone research team discovered that patients with mesothelioma produce too much of a specific cell protein—the Ephrin B2 receptor. Researchers found that when they reduced or stopped the body’s production of this receptor, it helped the patient’s natural processes to eliminate old and even cancerous cells. This finding is an important piece of the puzzle. Now that researchers are beginning to understand Ephrin B2’s role in mesothelioma development, it may lead to new forms of treatment, and could help with earlier diagnosis.

These are just a few examples of some of the encouraging research now being done.

Next article in this series: “What’s New in Clinical Trials?”