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Exciting news about our mesothelioma research

We’ve just awarded £688,891 to fund mesothelioma research! Cheryl from our research team, tells us more about the exciting new projects we’re funding.


We’ve awarded over £688k to fund 4 new mesothelioma research projects next year!

Every year, around 2,700 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK. This type of lung cancer is mostly caused by breathing in asbestos dust and the survival rate 3 years after someone is diagnosed is only 7%. 

That’s why we desperately need more research, so we can find new treatments and find a cure. We’ve invested £7.8 million in mesothelioma research already, and we’re so excited to announce that we’ve awarded £688,891 to fund 4 new mesothelioma research projects next year!

Here’s a roundup of the new projects we’re funding.

Dr Robert Ladner’s research is looking at how we can improve chemotherapy as a treatment for people with mesothelioma

When cancer cells are treated with chemotherapy, DNA damage blocks their growth. But sometimes the cancer cells protect themselves by a protein known as dUTPase, which makes chemotherapy treatment less effective. Dr Ladner’s team are trying to find ways to block this protein, so chemotherapy treatment can be more effective. They’re doing this by setting up simulated chemotherapy treatments in the lab and testing to see if they can find an inhibitor that stops the protein from working.

If they find an inhibitor that works, they hope that in the future doctors could start prescribing them alongside chemotherapy.

Dr Robert Rintoul and his team are developing new models of mesothelioma so we can understand it better

To learn more about how mesothelioma develops and grows, we need to develop new 3D models of the cancer in the lab. Until now, researchers have relied on growing cells as flat, 2D layers in plastic flasks. While useful, it doesn’t represent how a tumour grows in the body.

Dr Rintoul and his team are using samples of mesothelioma tumours from surgery and growing cells from the tumour in the laboratory. The new 3-D models, called ‘organoids’, can then be used to test different cancer drugs to see how certain treatments work. Once developed, the models will be accessible to all researchers across the UK.

The research team led by Dr Rintoul, who also run a BLF-funded project called MesobanK, has partnered with the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge for this project.

Dr Daniel Murphy is seeing how our immune system can be used to fight mesothelioma

Immunotherapies have recently emerged as effective treatments for many cancers. These drugs act by revealing previously ‘hidden’ cancers to the immune system, or by triggering immune cells to fight the cancer. Macrophages are a kind of immune cell. Recent studies show that macrophages can change the body’s response to cancer cells and may be involved in resistance to standard treatments.

Dr Murphy and his team think that macrophage treatments may be effective on their own or added to other treatments, so people may get a better response to chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy. In this project, they’ll look at 2 drugs that could affect the way macrophages act and see if adding them reduces tumour cell growth.

Dr John Maher is researching how our white blood cells can be taught to destroy mesothelioma cells

Dr Maher’s team are looking at a type of white blood cell, called a T-cell, to see if it can recognise and destroy cancer cells. They’re doing this by putting a ‘radar-like system’ on the T-cells (called a CAR) that can detect specific markers produced by cancer cells.

Currently, this treatment causes flu-like symptoms, due to a protein called IL-6 becoming activated. The team will see if they can engineer and modify the CAR T cells to prevent this from happening.

The funding for this grant has been kindly provided by Mesothelioma UK. The research selection, award and management process has been managed by the British Lung Foundation.

Find out more about our mesothelioma research


I am nursing my second brother through Mesothelioma and with my fist brother it's too late for any treatment. Early detection is needed and the only way to do that is through routine checks for everyone but in the UK we just wait for symptoms to appear and then go to doctor ,he went 2 years before he was diagnosed to the doc saying he was very tired all the time and they said ìt was his age 67! .
Thank you for all the research you have done 2018 we are getting treatments at last but we need do much more Research Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year 2019

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30 November 2018