As an attorney who works with clients suffering with mesothelioma, I continually wish medical science would find a cure for this devastating disease. But to find a cure for malignant mesothelioma it will take more than wishes. Every day teams of researchers and doctors are working diligently to unlock the mysteries of mesothelioma, to develop new and improved treatments, and to find a cure for this debilitating cancer. It will require the close collaboration of researchers and treating physicians to find that cure.
Communication Essential Between Researchers & Physicians
Researchers and treating doctors inhabit two very different worlds. Researchers work in laboratories studying cells and molecules. They are looking to identify how and why mesothelioma develops and rapidly spreads. They also are working to develop new methods for treatment, diagnosis, and eventually prevention and a cure for this rare cancer. Researchers typically have little to no interaction with the patients that they are trying to help through their research. Although their research is typically the basis for clinical trials, treating physicians take over and care for the patients once the clinical trials have been established. Physicians get to know their patients intimately while caring for them in clinics and hospitals. Although the work they do differs, researchers and doctors are aiming for the same goal, a cure for mesothelioma. Communication between these two worlds is key to provide the best outcome for the patient.
Researchers have become increasingly aware of their role in communicating the results of their research to physicians. This gives physicians the ability to “translate” the results of this research into new and effective therapies and treatments for patients. This is called “translational research.” Likewise, the doctors’ feedback is very important to the researcher so they can learn how the patients are responding to the new therapies. This feedback allows the laboratory researchers to adjust and revise their work based on the patients’ progress. This communication between researchers and physicians or “bench to bedside” is not always easy. Laboratory researchers and doctors at times seem to use different languages. However, the patient is at the very heart of this collaboration and is the most important reason that this strong effort toward enhanced communication must be made.
World renowned Italian medical researcher Giovanni Gaudino describes the work of the researchers:
“We are used to working with molecules, with cells and with experimental animals, while physicians are used to working with real live patients, and of course we use different terminology sometimes. In some cases, collaboration is very useful and successful, and we can say, especially for us who are used to working in the labs, it is exciting to meet the patients that are surviving or doing better. Even small improvements are very important to us. It’s a very interesting and emotional experience.”
The Researcher and the Mesothelioma Patient
Ordinarily, research scientists do not have a chance to meet mesothelioma patients during clinical trials. When clinical trials begin, the researchers “step back.” However, on some occasions, scientists do have the chance to meet these patients. Dr. Giovanni Gaudino has had this wonderful privilege. He explains:
“I saw patients with incredible increasing quality of life. And to see that what we are doing could help individuals to feel better is something very, very special that I’ve never experienced before.”
The patients involved in this clinical trial were happy, they were active, and they also recognized the importance of the work going on in the laboratory. Dr. Gaudino found that this was a very powerful and emotional experience to see that his work as a research scientist is helping these patients.
A Cure For Mesothelioma
I continue to hope that someday soon there will be a cure for mesothelioma. I take comfort in knowing that researchers and doctors are hard at work collaborating on this effort. The communication between these two groups will lead to new and better clinical trials and ultimately to a better outcome for mesothelioma patients.