Current Research Projects
Tipping the balance: pro and anti-apoptopic proteins as determinants of radiation resistance in mesothelioma
The aim is to identify novel biomarkers that could be used to predict which patients will benefit from radiotherapy; these may be simple H&E features discovered by expert inspection or by unsupervised AI, or they could be simple or multiplex immunohistochemical assays, interpreted with or without machine assistance.
It may be possible also to identify molecules and pathways that could be targeted to improve responses to radiotherapy.
The lead researcher is Professor Anthony Chalmers, Chair of Clinical Oncology at the University of Glasgow and Honorary Consultant, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre
The funding for this project has been provided by HASAG Asbestos Disease Support, a charity dedicated to supporting those affected by asbestos-related diseases.
EXTRA-Meso feasibility study – EXercise TheRApy in Mesothelioma feasibility study
This study will examine the feasibility of a randomised trial of exercise therapy in Mesothelioma. It will define likely rate of recruitment based on performance in two prominent mesothelioma centres and identify barriers to recruitment and retention.
The aims are:
- To determine the feasibility of recruiting patient with mesothelioma to an exercise therapy study
- To determine barriers to study recruitment
- To determine barriers to study retention
- To determine safety and tolerability of the exercise intervention and study assessments
The lead researcher is Dr Selina Tsim, Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow.
Leveraging a new class of cancer target for the benefit of mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment
The purpose of this study is to investigate the deregulation and importance of a novel and druggable hydroxylase enzyme called Mineral Dust Induced Gene (MDIG) in mesothelioma.
The aim is to characterise the deregulated expression of MDIG pathway components in mesothelioma patient samples and to model therapeutic targeting of MDIG in mesothelioma cell lines using genetic and pharmacological approaches.
The work has the potential to validate a new class of drug target for the future benefit of mesothelioma diagnosis and patient benefit.
The lead researcher is Professor Mathew Coleman, Professor in Tumour Cell Biology
Theme Co-Lead for Translational Biology and Genetics, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham
The funding for this project has been provided by Erase Meso, a charity raising critical funds for mesothelioma research.
Understanding the patient journey for those with mesothelioma: a review
This study will gather vital information to better understand multiple aspects of the Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) patient journey. The key stakeholder event will provide input into how these findings can help inform practice, raise awareness of the unmet needs of MPM patients and help prioritise further research, including informing the development of a larger study as part of a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Fellowship.
This study will retrospectively review the patient journey from diagnosis to death, specifically examining for:
• The level of palliative care provision (both general and specialit palliative care providers, including hospice admissions)
• Unplanned hospital admissions in the last year of life
• Symptom burden
• Advance Care Planning
• Place of death
The lead researcher is Donna Wakefield, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Diet and Physical Activity in Patients with Mesothelioma
The long term scope of this research is to identify if patients, carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) support the use of diet and physical activity interventions to improve quality of life in mesothelioma, and identify what interventions would be most amenable that are designed around the needs of patients by:
- exploring the thoughts and attitudes of patients, carers and HCPs towards diet and physical activity
- exploring willingness towards diet and physical activity interventions to preserve muscle mass
- identifying patients’ willingness to complete a nutritional screening assessment using the MUST tool to risk stratify for malnutrition
- describing the diet and physical activity of this group using a questionnaire and accelerometer (patients and those living in the community).
The lead researcher is Lorelle Dismore, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Improving the Patient Diagnostic Pathway for Mesothelioma
A rapid, minimally invasive method of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) detection and diagnosis would significantly improve patients clinical experience, including potentially opening avenues for faster initiation of therapies and negating the protracted diagnostic process.
This study intends to determine if testing pleural fluid could offer an alternative route to diagnosis of MPM, significantly reducing the number of patients requiring an invasive and protracted diagnostic pathway. This will also increase the number of patients receiving earlier treatment, improving survival times.
The lead researcher is Dr Antonia Pritchard, Reader, Genetics and Immunology, University of the Highlands and Islands.
A Test to Diagnose and Predict Clinical Outcomes in Mesothelioma
The key aim of this project is to establish whether a deep knowledge of how mesothelioma evolves can be leveraged to develop a simple test, that can be readily implemented in clinical practice. This test should be able to:
- significantly improve diagnostic accuracy and
- predict clinical outcomes with respect to overall survival and commonly used chemotherapies.
It is envisaged that research will lead to a new standard testing panel that can be readily undertaken at diagnosis.
The Lead Researcher is Professor Dean A. Fennell, Consultant Medical Oncologist, University Hospitals of Leicester.
Improving Symptom Control in Mesothelioma
Sherborne et al., (2020) conducted a literature review focused on the psychological impact of mesothelioma on patients and carers. This proposed project builds on this review through systematic inquiry into the scale of mental health conditions, exploration of psychological interventions that may help alleviate negative impacts and highlights positive impacts on mental health and wellbeing (MHWB).
The aims are to:
• identify and synthesize current evidence related to psychological interventions used in patients and carers living with mesothelioma
• generate understanding of the scale of the effect, impact of mesothelioma and current psychological interventions used by patients and carers living with mesothelioma
• develop a Mesothelioma UK leaflet on MHWB
• develop recommendations for practice, service delivery and research.
The Lead Researcher is Dr Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh, Research Associate, University of Sheffield
Genomics of Peritoneal Malignancy including rare forms of Mesothelioma
In 2019, Mesothelioma UK granted funding for a collaborative project between the University of Southampton Genomic Informatics Group, a world–recognised expert in cellular pathology with specific expertise in peritoneal malignancy and the Peritoneal Malignancy Institute (PMI), Basingstoke, which is one of the highest volume centres in the world for peritoneal malignancy.
This project aims to characterise peritoneal cancers, with a focus on peritoneal mesotheliomas, to catalogue the key transformative genetic changes driving these tumours. Tumour samples that have been collected and stored by the Peritoneal Malignancy Institute at Basingstoke will be selected for cutting-edge genetic analyses.
The lead researcher is Sarah Ennis, Professor of Genomics at the University of Southampton.
Read the progress report from January 2021 here.