About Us


The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund aims to raise awareness, fund crucial research projects. Improve diagnosis, treatment and care for mesothelioma sufferers plus helping to access information and support. Each and everyone are of supreme importance to the fund.

The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund works ” under the umbrella” of the British Lung Foundation and has been established in memory of my husband. Mick was diagnosed aged 59 years in August 2000 and died on the 19th March 2001, seven months after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer affecting the lung and occasionally the abdomen caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mick served in the Royal Navy as a young man when asbestos products were widely used. His character, courage and sense of humour made such an impression on all who knew him. Stemming from my personal life story, this research fund has been set up to help others, of which there will be many.

We are very grateful to everybody who supported us; we would like especially to thank  our patrons and all the people who organized a  Snowdrop memorial event in honour of a beloved victim of mesothelioma.

2012: The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund has worked to fund several ground-breaking research studies in this field over the last 10 years. These include:

Lead Invesitigator Dr Robert Rintoul. Papworth Hospital

Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Tissue Bank (MesobanK) Amount awarded: £500,000 total (£300k from MKMRF)

One of the barriers to performing research into mesothelioma is sourcing tissue samples of upon which experiments can be performed. At present, researchers have to collect tissue prospectively over time, resulting in delays and increased costs. “MesobanK” is the first formal central depository of mesothelioma tissue and blood in the UK.   It will allow scientists with a research idea to gain immediate

The Mick  Knighton Mesothelioma Tissue Bank (MesobanK),will collect and store biological tissue from mesothelioma patients. This tissue can then be used by doctors and researchers when looking for future treatments to help the growing number of people in the UK diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.  A collaborative group of doctors and scientists across the UK will contribute the tissue and blood samples.

The Mesobank is open to all interested in research, regardless of their locality or which organisation funds their work. All those interested in using samples will need to make a written application, which  will be carefully considered by an independant Scientific Advisory Board to ensure that samples are distributed only to research teams planning well designed, worthwhile and robust studies.  For more information contact the British Lung Foundation Helpline: 03000 030555. Lines open Monday to Friday 10.00am – 6.00pm. Advisors are happy to call you back or alternativley email: helpline@blf.org.uk 

 June 2012: The MesobanKUKfunded by the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and the British Lung Foundation was launched in the House of Commons.

Dame Helena Shovelton and Chris Knighton

The aim of the project is to establish a tissue collection of mesothelioma tumours supported by detailed clinical information database about each sample.

Chris Knighton with Dr Robert Rintoul

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.

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.

Dr Albiruni Ryan Abdul Razak, University of Newcastle:  Developing tests of mesothelioma samples to find out which patients will benefit from chemotherapy

  • During this study, Dr Abdul Razak aimed to understand why some mesothelioma patients mesothelioma don’t respond to the drug ‘pemetrexed’. The results suggested that activity of a particular enzyme in the tumour is involved. Measuring this activity could form the basis upon which informed, individually-tailored decisions can be made about the use of pemetrexed.

 Dr Sam Janes, University College London

Treating Malignant Mesothelioma with Stem CellsPrevious work by Dr Janes has demonstrated that modified stems cells can be used to kill certain cancer cells. During this study, Dr Janes investigated whether this technique might be successful in killing mesothelioma cells while preserving healthy lung tissue. Their results suggested that the majority of laboratory-grown mesothelioma cell types are sensitive to this approach. Further work is needed to explore how this idea might be taken out of the laboratory and into the clinic.

access to tissue and anonymised clinical information. In turn, this will speed up the progress of research projects and help achieve ground-breaking results to help people who have mesothelioma more quickly.

 Mesothelioma: a personal perspective, by Chris Knighton


British Lung Foundation
© 2012 Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha