As part of the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation honored three families on June 11th for their painstaking efforts made towards the advancement of mesothelioma research. The three families, the Bendix family, the Ruble family and the Sterling family, funded three critical research projects through the foundation’s research program, providing hope for current and future mesothelioma victims and their families.
Ken Bendix and his family in California contributed $100,000 to research new modes of treatment for this deadly disease. As a mesothelioma patient, Ken was well acquainted with the devastating effects of the disease and the desperate need to find a cure for it. The family funded the Ken Bendix Research Grant in December 2009, prior to Ken’s passing, through various fundraising events. His father, Don Bendix was quoted as saying, “Although Ken had not envisioned a grant as an egotistical tribute to himself, it is proper in his memory that his name be attached to this worthy cause.” The grant which aims to develop a new virotherapy strategy to identify and treat malignant peritoneal mesothelioma was awarded to Dr. J. Andrea McCart of the Toronto General Research Institute.
Children of the late Lance S. Ruble organized several fundraising events and campaigns to contribute $100,000 to fund the Lance S. Ruble Memorial Grant. The grant, awarded to Dr. Prasad Adusumilli of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, aims to train the body’s own immune cells to selectively kill mesothelioma cells. Erica Ruble, daughter of the late mesothelioma victim Lance S. Ruble said, “Our family chose this research project because my dad had such a hard time with the traditional approaches to mesothelioma.” She added, “We hope that this approach will enhance a patient’s immune system and enable people to live longer without suffering serious side effects.”
Peggy Sterling, wife of John Sterling, who succumbed to this incurable disease, funded the John Sterling Memorial Grant single-handedly to honor her late husband. The grant, awarded to Dr. Nicholas Heintz of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, aims to find new ways to improve the activity of Thiostrepton, which is an anti-tumor antibiotic that inhibits the growth and survival of mesothelioma cells. While expressing her gratitude Peggy Sterling said, “We are entirely grateful to all of the researchers who are passionate about developing new lines of treatment for mesothelioma. John believed in a cure and, during his lifetime, he supported the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Naming this grant in honor of his life means very much to our family.”
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused primarily by asbestos exposure. The disease lies dormant for decades. However, once diagnosed with the disease, its victims generally do not survive past 25 months. Although efforts are being made to find a cure for this disease, the cancer is currently incurable. The number of mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the US every year is growing. For this reason, it is crucial to support researchers who work tirelessly to improve treatment of this disease in the hope of one day finding its cure.