JHMRF funds new research projects

November 12, 2014

This year has been an important one for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund: the fund has awarded nearly £400,000 to support two important new research projects and a fellowship.

The award process started last year when seven excellent applications were received by the closing date. The applications
were sent out to carefully selected expert reviewers around the world for an assessment of their scientific merit and likely benefit
to patients.

The process culminated with a meeting of the JHMRF Scientific Advisory Board at which all the applications were discussed and the external reviewers’ comment considered. The final decision was not an easy one because all the projects were of a high standard. After lengthy discussion two were identified as the top choices and it was decided to fund the SYSTEMS 2 project fully and an immunotherapy project for the first year.

SYSTEMS 2 will continue the work started by the Brother Peter Fellowship holder: Dr Nick MacLeod in Edinburgh to study the role of radiotherapy in symptom control. This work is likely to have the most immediate impact on patient care as advances in radiotherapy technology make it timely to investigate whether this widely available treatment can be used routinely in mesothelioma. Dr MacLeod said “I’m delighted to continue the partnership with the June Hancock Fund and to have the opportunity to take this work forward to the next phase”.

Dr Astero Klabatsa, a molecular biologist based at King’s College London, has received funding for the first year of her immunological study. She will investigate the ‘CAR T-cell’ approach that has recently achieved positive results for patients with blood cancers.

The treatment can cause side effects and needs to be adapted so it is safe and effective. Astero’s experiments will pave the way to a novel approach to treating mesothelioma with immunotherapy and hopefully lead to clinical testing of the treatment in the near future.

The Stennett Fellowship has been awarded to fund a doctoral study at the University of Birmingham lead by Professor Gary Middleton.

This project will deliver the first comprehensive analysis of myeloidderived suppressor cells in mesothelioma and the effects of therapies aimed at targeting them. These cells can influence the body’s immune response to cancer cells. This fellowship offers a unique training opportunity in translational cancer immunology.

The JHMRF is thrilled to be in a position to support these exciting new research projects. Trustee Kate Hill, who manages the research activity of the fund commented “Thanks to the generosity of our donors nearly £1.3million has been raised in the 17 years since the fund was founded in June’s memory; the 2014 awards will take us close to nearly £1million of that total sum being dispersed to research teams across the UK. We are a small charity but our growing portfolio of research proves that we can make a difference.”