Update on polycythemia vera research in Hometown area
Unfortunately, I got seriously ill with what my doctor thinks was swine flu and couldn't make the meeting. Fortunately, the local press covered the story extensively.
The ATSDR didn't release the results of the first round of genetic testing at the Oct. 24 gathering but is waiting until the second round of testing is completed early this month, according to the Republican Herald. Of the $5.5 million in federal funding allocated so far to study the cluster, $3.753 million will go to other organizations for various projects, the Times News reported:
* The Myeloproliferative Disorder Research Consortium -- a nonprofit funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct research on the genetic and cellular mechanisms of blood cancers -- will set up a tissue bank for polycythemia vera patients. That project will be led by Dr. Rona Weinberg, a professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
* Dr. Ronald Hoffman and Dr. Ming Xu of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine will conduct genetic analyses and a toxicology study.
* Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Roda, the Geisinger Clinic will look at patterns of the disease, educate area physicians about polycythemia vera, and look at clinical outcomes for patients with the disease. It will also study the prevalence of polycythemia vera in the Danville and Selinsgrove areas to compare to rates in the tri-county area.
* Dr. Arthur Frank at Drexel University's School of Public Health in Philadelphia will conduct a case-control study of polycythemia vera rates in the tri-county area.
* The Pennsylvania Department of Health will get funding to continue to monitor blood cancer in the area and to work with the University of Pittsburgh to conduct a comparison study, while the state Department of Environmental Protection will examine potential environmental causes.
* Funds will also go to the new Community Action Committee (CAC), which will be coordinated by Dr. Henry Cole of Henry S. Cole and Associates in Upper Marlboro, Md., with Joe Murphy of Hometown serving as the lead local representative. The group will serve as an "information conduit" between the agencies and the community.
Another $1.746 million will go the ATSDR itself for what's being called an "exposure investigative team" environmental and geospatial analyses, technical support and oversight of the outside researchers, and efforts to improve reporting by doctors of polycythemia vera and other so-called myeloproliferative disorders.
The Times News also reported on the first meeting of the CAC, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the Hometown Fire Co. The group will be working with an advisory panel of scientific and legal experts that includes:
* Attorney Tom Gowen of the Locks Law Firm, who with Murphy was involved in an effort to bring a civil lawsuit over contamination at the McAdoo Associates Superfund site. That former abandoned mine-turned-waste dump is located near the polycythemia vera "ground zero" on Ben Titus Road in the Still Creek community where numerous cases of the disease first came to light. In 2006, the Locks firm concluded that it did not have a legal basis for proceeding with a civil action due to a lack of evidence that poisons dumped at the site have migrated to nearby wells or the Still Creek reservoir, which provides drinking water for the Hometown-Tamaqua area.
* Water contamination and public health expert G. Fred Lee of G. Fred Lee and Associates in El Macero, Calif.
* Robert Martin, the former ombudsman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who resigned after the Bush administration tried to silence him for raising questions about former administrator Christine Todd Whitman's financial ties to the owner of a Denver Superfund site and a firm that provided insurance around the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. The EPA under Whitman falsely assured Manhattan residents that they didn't need to worry about environmental contamination after the towers collapsed on 9/11.
According to the Times News, Cole told attendees of the CAC meeting that in his 40 years of working in his field, he might not have seen a community that had suffered so many different "environmental insults." Cole also said that it was very rare for the government to actually acknowledge a cancer cluster.