Science workshop a first

September 25, 2018

Nine universities were represented by 15 researchers at our first science workshop in Leeds. New acquaintances and links between the researchers were created, which is a very positive step. The JHMRF are now offering a £25,000 pump-priming grant in order to maintain the momentum in this area.

With high quality mesothelioma research our priority, the objective of the workshop was to explore and prioritise the outstanding research questions in mesothelioma. Chaired by Dr Richard Stephens (formerly of the Medical Research Council) and Fund trustee Dr Kate Hill, the workshop’s aim was to provide an opportunity for researchers and research teams to share their ideas and outline their proposals, including opportunities for debate and further discussion once the emergent research topics had been identified.

Meet the researchers

Two large mesothelioma awards had been announced in 2016; £5m of government funding to Imperial College, London for genetic studies (led by Professor Sir Anthony Newton-Taylor and Professor Bill Cookson), and £5m from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation to the British Lung Foundation for Phase ll and lll clinical trials in Leicester (led by professor Dean Fennell), and to support MesoBank and other groundbreaking research studies in Papworth (led by Dr. Robert Rintoul). However, even with this boost to funding, it was clear that there were still gaps in mesothelioma research that remained unfilled by these allocations.

Building mesothelioma research capacity by providing a forum for debate and sharing ideas amongst institutions, as well as developing a mesothelioma research network, would hopefully identify a collaborative research project that could become a research proposal. And so the JHMRF scientific workshop idea was formed, and culminated in a very successful and innovative event.

The quality of the work presented was excellent. Patient representatives were also present – this was very important to us. The willingness to share ideas was really encouraging, and culminated in a great diversity of work being presented. Because of that, no single specific collaborative project emerged, although it was wholeheartedly agreed that an early diagnosis was an important goal.

Researcher presentations at the workshop included:

  • A project to detect molecules within mesothelioma cells that will help predict which patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma will benefit from radiotherapy and to further our understanding of why this cancer is resistant to radiotherapy. (Miranda Ashton, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre)
  • A project continuing the exploitation of natural products, looking at the chemical synthesis of four natural products all of which demonstrate good activity against mesothelioma in-vitro. (Adrian Dobbs, University of Greenwich)
  • A project looking at identifying new bio-markers for new drug development in mesothelioma. (Alistair Greystoke, Sir Bobby Robson Unit, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle)
  • Setting up of a mesothelioma research team at Sheffield Hallam University and looking at protein levels in samples to determine the level of asbestos exposure required for mesothelioma to develop. (Sarah Hayward-Small, Sheffield Hallam University)
  • Improving mouse models of mesothelioma – much is known about the early events and end-stage disease, but little is known about what happens in between. (Daniel Murphy, CRUK Beatson Institute, University of Glasgow)
  • Project looking at metabolism, and hypoxia (cell death) and how it is expressed in mesothelioma. Looking at new prognostic markers and potential new treatments. (Luciano Mutti, University of Salford)

New acquaintances and links between the researchers were created, which is a very positive step. The JHMRF are now offering a £25,000 pump-priming grant in order to maintain the momentum in this area.

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