The Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (Penn Medicine) is one of the leading treatment centers for mesothelioma in the country. The cancer center has been designated as one of the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Mesothelioma treatment at Penn Medicine is led by renowned physician, Dr. Steven M. Albelda, M.D. Dr. Albelda has been instrumental in developing innovative treatments for lung cancers, including mesothelioma and other cancers affecting the chest wall.
Dr. Albelda is the Vice Chief and Director of Lung Research, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Harron Lung Center, one of the facilities at Penn Medicine. Dr. Albelda graduated from Williams College and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After graduating in 1979 with several academic honors, Dr. Albelda performed his post-graduate studies at Penn Medicine. He has published papers in over 140 peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Albelda is the recipient of the Physician-Scientist Award from the Lung Division of the National Institutes of Health and the 2010 Wagner Medal from the Mesothelioma Interest Group. The Wagner Award is the most prestigious honor presented by the Mesothelioma Interest Group. The honor is awarded every two years to a pioneering physician who has made the most significant contribution in the area of mesothelioma treatment and care. Dr. Albelda was recognized for his groundbreaking role in understanding the biology of the disease and applying these findings to mesothelioma treatment in a clinical setting.
Innovative research initiatives have been one of the cornerstones of Dr. Albelda’s approach to mesothelioma care. He has worked with human tumor samples, animal models and clinical trials throughout his years of research. Dr. Albelda pioneered immunogene therapies for thoracic cancers, including mesothelioma. The Thoracic Oncology Research Laboratory headed by Dr. Albelda was one of the first laboratories to use immunogene therapy to target various cancers. The first trials involving gene therapy for mesothelioma patients were performed in Dr. Albelda’s lab.
Along with his colleagues, Dr. Albelda led a clinical trial applying immunogene therapy through an adenovirus that delivers interferon-alpha genes along with an antibody to mesothelioma patients. In collaboration with Dr. Carl June and Dr. Andrew Haas, Dr. Albelda is also working on an immunogene clinical trials using T-Cells that are modified to tackle the tumor target known as mesothelin.
Dr. Albelda has also been involved in research that examines the microenvironment of tumors. The purpose of the research is to enhance current knowledge about the conditions of the tumor’s microenvironment by studying how white blood cells and fibroblast perform immunosuppressive functions. The research attempts to develop new ways to adjust the microenvironment to improve the effects of immunotherapy treatments using COX-2 inhibitors, TGFbeta inhibitors, T-regulatory cell inhibitors, antibodies and chemotherapy medications.
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