Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gift supports MGH drug development, patient and family support for rare and deadly tumor

Photo: From left: Timothy Brauns, MGH VIC; Dr. Christopher (Jerry) Azzoli, MGH Cancer Center; Jeff Korek, GLK Law, Arthur Luxenberg, Weitz and Luxenberg, Dr. Mark Poznansky, MGH VIC; David Christiani, MGH, and Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, MGH VIC

BOSTON – The Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is starting a new program to create a more hopeful and supportive future for patients with the rare cancer mesothelioma. The goals of the Mesothelioma Research and Resource Program are both to expand treatment options by identifying promising immunotherapy drugs and to provide support and resources for patients suffering from the disease and their families. The program has been made possible by a $300,000 gift from Arthur Luxenberg and Perry Weitz, founding partners of Weitz and Luxenberg in New York.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lung lining usually caused by exposure to asbestos. For the approximately 3,000 patients diagnosed each year, survival is often limited to one to two years. Current treatment options for mesothelioma have limited success, and the cancer has a impact significant on patients and their families.

“We have been evaluating a number of promising candidate medications for mesothelioma over the past year,” says Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, VIC director. “This gift will enable our research team to accelerate the assessment process and the selection of promising candidate drugs for clinical studies beyond the usual pace for research of this kind.”

Donor Luxenberg indicates sharing Poznansky's vision of creating a globally impactful, comprehensive research and resource program at the MGH.

“Mesothelioma is a difficult disease for the patients and a challenge for the whole family,” he says. “Prior to their diagnosis, many of these patients were healthy tradesmen. It is heartbreaking to watch them rapidly lose weight and increasingly struggle for breath over the course of their illness. The families of these patients also struggle to cope with the effect of the cancer and to decide the best course of treatment for their loved one, so we want to make their lives better, too.”   

About the Massachusetts General Hospital: Founded in 1811, the Massachusetts General Hospital (www.massgeneral.org) is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The 957-bed medical center each year admits almost 48,500 inpatients, handles more than 1.6 million visits to its extensive outpatient programs at the main campus and four health centers, and records more than 95,700 emergency visits. The surgical staff perform more than 41,000 operations annually, and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers about 3,700 babies a year. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, the MGH has more than 23,000 employees, including almost 4,000 registered nurses.  MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $775 million.  MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare System, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system.  In 2003, MGH became the first hospital in the state to be awarded Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  The MGH is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report.

Kristen Chadwick, Public Affairs. KSChadwick@partners.org (617) 643-3907

Browse the Entire Newsroom Archive

Back to Top