An $8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute will fund a four-year study of the effects of photodynamic therapy (PDT) on a rare lung cancer associated with asbestos. The study, involving 102 patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, will be carried out by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. All the patients will undergo pleurectomy, a surgery that removes the lung’s lining along with tumors contained within. Half the patients will receive PDT during therapy along with post-operative chemotherapy; half will receive only post-operative chemotherapy. Patients will be dosed with photofrin, a photosensitizing agent that makes cancer cells more likely to die from light therapy. Photofrin absorbs the laser light and produces an active form of oxygen that can destroy cancer cells left behind after surgery. The study also will examine the process by which PDT works to destroy tumor cells, as well as the tumors’ vasculature, to look for potential effect-boosting drugs or therapies. Furthermore, the researchers will examine whether certain pathways affect inflammation or cell growth that contribute to treatment failure. For more information, visit www.uphs.upenn.edu.