Case study:

Tackling the effects of asbestos exposure The University is conducting world-leading research into mesothelioma – a form of lung cancer strongly linked with

exposure to asbestos. Despite the UK’s ban on asbestos issued in 1985, the number of deaths caused by the disease each year has grown from 153 in 1968 to 2,321 in 2009 – the highest incidence in the world. This number is set to continue to rise sharply over the next 20 years, because many people who worked in construction, car and ship building and power stations in the mid-20th century were exposed to the substance.

Leading lung cancer specialist and former Cancer Research UK medical oncologist Professor Dean Fennell, who was recruited to spearhead the University’s lung cancer initiative, is leading a series of clinical trials to find new treatments for mesothelioma.
Around 50 mesothelioma patients are treated at Leicester Royal Infirmary each year and they – along with other patients from around the world – are able to take part in the University’s investigations.

His team is currently trialling three new drugs which we hope will lead to improvements with treatment in time. These are:

• NGR015 – a study exploring the activity of a new agent capable of disrupting new vessels in mesothelioma, believed to be essential for its growth. This is a large international trial and Leicester was one of the first centres to recruit to it.

• Meso2 – a Cancer Research UK-supported study looking into the effects of an exciting
new type of drug therapy called HSP90 inhibitors. A new agent will be combined with standard chemotherapy to improve outcomes in mesothelioma.

• ADAM – a Cancer Research UK-supported study based on Professor Fennell’s research into
a subset of mesotheliomas that lack a particular gene which makes them vulnerable to a drug called ADI-PEG. The team is testing for loss of the gene in mesothelioma before enrolling patients into the study.

This article originally appeared in LE1 Winter 2012

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