New hope for mesothelioma research

We're funding a new mesothelioma research project that's looking into a protein called ERK5. Ian, from our research team, talks about what it could mean for mesothelioma research.

Recent research has suggested that mesothelioma relies on a protein called ERK5 to grow. Dr Finegan and her team are studying how and why this is. 

Their previous research has shown that ERK5 can cause mesothelioma cancer cells to grow and multiply. But they’ve also found that ERK5 can activate other cell types, helping the cancer grow even more. These cell types, called macrophages and neutrophils, are part of the normal immune system and normally protect us from viruses and abnormal cells. But they seem to be reprogrammed and actually support the cancer’s growth in people with mesothelioma.

Dr Finegan

Dr Finegan and her team will be testing treatment therapies which target the ERK5 protein, and seeing if any slow or stop mesothelioma tumours. They’ll do this by measuring the levels of inflammation in the tumours before and after treatment. This is because inflammation supports tumour growth and so they’ll know if the treatment is working quicker. 

Dr Finegan’s team are also tracking to see what happens to a person’s immune cells during the treatment. This way they can see if the immune system behaves differently with the different types of drugs. 

If successful, they hope this will support the development of an ERK5-targeting drug that could be effective in reducing mesothelioma tumours. This would be a major step towards mesothelioma treatment.

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. But we can only fund research thanks to our supporters like the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, Mesothelioma UK and the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund. Thanks also goes to our mesothelioma patrons Simpson Millar LLP, Leigh Day, Hodge Jones & Allen, Shield Environmental Services and ACMS UK. 

Thank you 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.


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.

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27 June 2018