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Identifying new ways to treat mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer, which we urgently need to find new and better ways to treat. In their research, Samantha Arathimou (PhD student) and Professor Sam Janes wanted to find out more about the pleura (lung lining) and mesothelioma cells, to understand more about the early stages of developing mesothelioma. Samantha tell us more about their research.

How regular body cells are different to cancer cells

Regular body cells grow and divide and know when to stop growing. Cancer cells are different because they continue to grow and divide out of control. When this uncontrolled growth happens, the cancer cells produce different types of proteins, which are molecules needed for a cell to divide and survive. What we wanted to find out was which proteins help the cancer cells survive. If we can find that out, we can target those proteins and not cause any harm to normal, healthy cells.

We needed a new way to look at mesothelioma cells

One of the challenges we faced was how difficult it was to get healthy pleura to work on. We had to find a reliable and quick way to extract the normal pleural cells and developed a method to collect these from people undergoing surgery. This meant we could get cells from lots of patients, allowing us to work with both healthy and mesothelioma cells.

This new technique helped answer our key question. We’ve been able to compare healthy pleural cells to cancerous mesothelioma cells and pinpoint the abnormal proteins in the mesothelioma cells. This means we now know the proteins that could be targeted with new treatments, making treatment more effective.

Our findings will benefit mesothelioma research in the future

My British Lung Foundation PhD studentship has given me the chance to work in an area where there’s a desperate need for research. This BLF funded study has led to better understanding of mesothelioma cells and the valuable methods we’ve developed will help other scientists’ work in the future. We hope that by identifying irregular cells and proteins, this will help find new and better treatments for people with mesothelioma.

Find out more about our mesothelioma research

Want to help fund our research? Donate today:

Research is starting to make a real difference in the field of mesothelioma. Thank you to everyone that has donated towards our mesothelioma research including Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, Mesothelioma UK and Catalina. As well as our mesothelioma patrons who are also leading the way in supporting people affected by mesothelioma. 

Thank you also to the many individuals who donate to us every day. We are truly grateful. Every donation is crucial in helping us spearhead this work and ensure we can continue to make strides in fighting this disease.

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2 July 2020