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How we're helping find better treatments for mesothelioma

Ian, our head of research, gives us an update on our mesothelioma research.

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and is usually caused by breathing in asbestos.

Researching mesothelioma is a priority for us, and we've been looking into cures and treatments for the cancer for over five years. So far, we've spent over £5 million researching it.

Our research has had an amazing impact, and we're proud to be supporting scientists all over the UK who are dedicating their lives to wiping out this disease.

Some day, we hope to find even better treatments, improve care, and even find a cure for mesothelioma.

What we’ve done so far

Last financial year, we were thrilled to announce that £900,000 would go into funding new research grants for mesothelioma. The grants go towards supporting the researchers who're looking at the many ways they can change the lives of people with mesothelioma, and improve their futures.

This includes things like:

  • Coming up with new 'personalised' therapies for mesothelioma
    In other cancer research, like breast cancer, understanding the range of genetic changes that cause the cancer has been very effective in treating it. Our scientists want to do the same with mesothelioma. They want to come up with new, special therapies that have been specifically designed for people with mesothelioma so they can give the right person the right treatment.
  • Immunotherapy
    Our scientists have been looking at ways to improve the body's way of detecting and attacking the cancer. They can do this by boosting patients' immune systems. 
  • Improving existing therapies
    Chemotherapy can be effective for some people, but not everyone, and can often have unpleasant side effects. Our scientists are researching ways to make existing therapies better, to see if we can tell who will benefit from chemotherapy, and who won't.
  • Harnessing nature
    Our researchers have been coming up with new drugs to treat mesothelioma that have been built with basic molecules found in nature. Now, we're researching how we can develop and test them. 
We’re funding research that will translate into real treatments. We want to deliver real benefits as quickly as possible.

The money we spend is used at all stages of the research cycle. We know it's vital that we work out how mesothelioma develops. If we can do this, our scientists will have the knowledge they need to build even more effective treatments. 

But we’re also funding research that will translate into real treatments. We want to deliver real benefits as quickly as possible. By backing several approaches, we’re increasing our chances of making a breakthrough.

Looking to the future

We’ve awarded grants that are supported by the generous donation made by the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation last year. This funding is being used to…

  • Kick-start early phase clinical trials of new 'personalised' therapies for mesothelioma. This work is being led by Professor Dean Fennell in Leicester.
  • Develop and expand the MesobanK resource led by Dr Robert Rintoul at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire. The MesobanK provides researchers with quick access to the tissue, blood samples, cells and the anonymised clinical data they need to get going on ground-breaking research projects.
  • Help us to set up a Mesothelioma Research Network. This will bring the UK’s mesothelioma research community together and encourage collaboration and sharing ideas so we can avoid the duplication of effort. We’re looking to grow the network this year.

The research we’ve been funding is bringing us closer than ever to better care and treatment for people with mesothelioma. 

But we need funding to make sure that these amazing ideas reach their full potential, and some day become treatments that could change and even save lives. And to get there, we need your support.

Help us continue our work by making a donation today.

If your company is interested in supporting our vital mesothelioma research, you can join our mesothelioma patrons scheme. Find out more by emailing

Ian Jarrold

Ian is our head of research and has worked at the BLF for a decade. He had previously studied biochemistry and worked in the medical research charity sector.

21 March 2017