28th June 2012
MesobanK UK funded by the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and the British Lung Foundation was launched in the House of Commons today.
The aim of the project is to establish a tissue collection of mesothelioma tumours supported by detailed clinical information database about each sample.
At present there is no cure for mesothelioma and average survival from diagnosis is around one year. In order to develop new treatments for mesothelioma a better understanding of tumour biology is needed.
To facilitate such work, researchers require access to tumour tissue and blood collected to rigorous standards.
A) Pathology samples from 1000 patients with mesothelioma. These will be used to build a Tissue Microarray (TMA). A TMA allows scientists to study samples from hundreds of tumours on a single slide which can greatly facilitate and speed up research.
B) Fresh tumour samples, blood samples and clinical data will be collected from 300 patients over the next 3 years. This will permit analysis and experiments which can only be performed on fresh tissue.
C) 20 new mesothelioma cell lines which can be used in the laboratory to study how cells grow and die.
A collaborative group of doctors and scientists across the UK will contribute the tissue and blood samples.
The samples will be kept in a centralised storage facility. Clinical data will be obtained from multiple sources and stored on a bespke database linked to each sample.
MesobanK UK will follow all the appopriate regulatory procedures governing the collection and use of human tissue.
What will this Achieve?
The hope is to develop a valuable resource for doctors and scientists performing research on mesothelioma in the UK and beyond which is believed to facilitate and speed -up the developments of new treatmennew research facility to help tackle the ‘neglected’ cancer
Mesothelioma: the extent of the problem
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that mainly affects the lining of the lungs (also known as pleura). It is almost always fatal, with people surviving, on average, between just eight and 14 months after their diagnosis. It is usually associated with exposure to asbestos.
The UK has the highest rates of death from mesothelioma of any country in the world. At a time when death rates for many other cancers are falling, the annual number of mesothelioma deaths in the UK has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years.
The disease now kills around 2,300 UK residents a year – more than cervical cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, mouth cancer and malignant melanoma .
Furthermore, although current rates of mesothelioma are directly related to the heavy use of asbestos in industry in the 1950s-70s, asbestos wasn’t completely banned as a building material until 1999.
Therefore, anyone working on a building built or renovated prior to this date (either professionally or in amateur DIY) could come across asbestos, potentially exposing them to the hazardous fibres that, if disturbed, can lead to mesothelioma.
Raising awareness of asbestos in the home is the target of the BLF’s current ‘Take 5 and Stay Alive’ campaign.
The need for more mesothelioma research
National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) statistics are published for all types of lung-related cancer (including mesothelioma) combined. These data make for startling reading: although lung cancer research receives NCRI funding totalling approximately a quarter of that allocated to breast cancer, approximately a third of that allocated to leukaemia, and approximately half of that allocated bowel cancer, it currently kills more people per year than all three put together.
Furthermore, the NCRI estimated that, last year, just 4% of money spent on lung cancer research by NCRI partners was specific to mesothelioma.
It is hoped that, by making mesothelioma tissue and clinical information quickly and easily available to UK researchers, the Mesobank will make mesothelioma research quicker and more widespread, helping the thousands of people being diagnosed with the disease annually.
Comments about the Mesobank
Speaking at the launch of the Mesobank in the Houses of Parliament on 28 June, Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said:
“Mesothelioma is a particularly cruel form of cancer that often leaves sufferers just months to live after diagnosis.
“We hope that the Mesobank will help the UK become a world leader in mesothelioma research and, more importantly, help improve both the length and quality of life for people affected by it”.
Chris Knighton MBE, Founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, said:
“A decade after I set up the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund in memory of my husband, Mick, I see the opening of this fantastic new research facility as one of our greatest achievements.
“Mick was exposed to asbestos whilst serving his country with the Royal Navy, and died just seven months after his diagnosis.
“My hope is that the Mesobank will enable the kind of scientific breakthroughs that could give other people affected by mesothelioma the extra time to spend with their loved ones that means so much”.
Dr Robert Rintoul, Consultant Physician at the Papworth Hospital Cambridge, who is leading Mesobank, said:
“In research terms, mesothelioma has been a neglected cancer for far too long.
“The opening of the Mesobank could really help change this, by making it quicker, easier and cheaper for researchers to undertake the kind of research that could delivery real advances in our understanding and treatment of this devastating disease”.
Support from hospitals from around the UK
The Mesobank project is being funded by the British Lung Foundation and Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, and is being led by Dr Robert Rintoul and a team at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.
It is supported by co-investigators from the University of Cambridge, Leicester University, University College London, Barts Cancer Institute London, University of Bristol, University Hospital of South Manchester, University of Sheffield, Aberdeen University and Queen’s University Belfast.