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4 July 2019

How our mesothelioma patrons support research

Cheryl, who helps look after our mesothelioma research, spent the day with our mesothelioma patrons on their visit to a research lab. The patrons help us fund vital mesothelioma research. She tells us about their day.

Mesothelioma is a deadly disease with no cure that kills 2,500 people in the UK every year. It’s caused by breathing in dust from asbestos. It's now banned but can still be found in homes, schools and offices.

That's why we've spent millions of pounds funding mesothelioma research. Earlier this year, our generous mesothelioma patrons – who help make our research possible - spent a day finding out about the research they help fund. Here’s what they learned.

Our patrons visit Professor James' laboratory
Two of our patrons, John Das from Dedicated Accident Solicitors and Isobel Lovett from Hodge, Jones & Allen, visit Professor Janes' laboratory

Finding new treatment targets for mesothelioma

Professor Sam Janes and his research team are interested in genes inside our bodies that control how we develop as babies in the womb. Some of these genes appear to switch on again when we’re adults. When this is combined with other genetic damage, like from asbestos, this can lead to cancers including malignant mesothelioma.

Sam’s research team think that a significant share of malignant mesotheliomas have one of these genetic pathways switched on that can be switched back off again relatively easily. The pathway that Sam’s team are looking into is called the ‘Hedgehog pathway’ - or Hh for short - and the gene is called ‘Gli’.

The research team performed some early experiments that showed that this gene, Gli, is seen more commonly in many people with mesothelioma. Importantly, when the researchers switch Gli off with a new drug called Gant61, they can stop growth of the cancer.

Now, the researchers will test samples from people with mesothelioma to see if Gli is present and if it can be blocked by drugs. If Sam and his team are successful, it might lead to a clinical trial that could test a new group of personalised treatments.

The patrons receive a presentation from Professor Sam James
Professor Sam Janes explains his research to the patrons 

At the research visit, our patrons heard from Professor Sam Janes, Samantha Arathimou (the PhD student doing the lab work) and staff from the British Lung Foundation about the difference our patrons make. Alison Staley, whose husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015, told us all about what research means to them and their family. It was so inspiring to hear everyone speak. And it was great to see our mesothelioma patrons get a chance to see the laboratory and equipment used in their studies. They even got to do a test to look for protein levels!

How our patrons support research

We’ve already spent £8,600,000 funding mesothelioma research. Since 2016, our mesothelioma patrons have contributed more that £100,000. That lets us continue to support mesothelioma researchers like Professor Janes. But not only that, our generous partners also help raise awareness about mesothelioma and the risks of asbestos exposure.

Our legal patrons Hodge Jones & AllenSimpson MillarLeigh DayDedicated Accident SolicitorsGA Solicitors and Humphreys & Co lead the way in providing legal advice and support to people affected by mesothelioma and their families. Shield Environmental Services are experts in the surveyance, training and safe removal of asbestos protecting the lives of people now and in the future.

The patrons receive a presentation
Daniel Cooper from Hodge, Jones & Allen, Jon Das from Dedicated Accident Solicitors and Craig Dennis from Shield Environmental Services (left to right) listen to Professor Janes

How you can help us defeat mesothelioma

We’ve already done so much to fight mesothelioma, but we can’t defeat the disease without more funding for more research.

Please help us win this fight by donating today and raising awareness of Action Mesothelioma Day on Twitter this Friday. If you are interested in becoming a patron for our mesothelioma work, please contact our corporate partnerships manager, Andy Jackson, at

Help fund our research: donate today

Do you have a story to tell? It could be about your lung condition, a friend or relative you know who lives with one, or how caring for them impacts your life. We'd love to hear what you've got to say!

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Cheryl Lenny

Cheryl Lenny

Cheryl is the research networks and partnerships manager at BLF. Her background is in biology. Cheryl has worked managing research programmes and professional networks for a few charities.

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4 July 2019