New research into immunology and mesothelioma

Scientists at King’s College London will test a new technique that could directly target an aggressive form of cancer.

Funded by Mesothelioma UK and awarded through the British Lung Foundation Research Grants, Dr John Maher and a team of researchers will programme white blood cells to recognise specific proteins that are present at higher levels on mesothelioma tumour cells, compared to normal cells.

This research aims to teach the white blood cells, which are part of the body’s normal mechanism of fighting infection, to recognise mesothelioma and shut down the processes that enable tumours to grow and spread around the body.

Dr John Maher, Honorary Consultant in Immunology at King’s College London and Consultant in Immunology at Eastbourne Hospital, said: “Although treatments already exist to slow down the progress of tumour growth and development in patients with mesothelioma, these treatments often fail and can also attack healthy cells and cause unpleasant side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue.

“By reprogramming immune white blood cells to recognise tumours and attack them directly, immunotherapy offers the possibility of targeted treatment which could significantly improve outcomes for people diagnosed with mesothelioma.”

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, added: “Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is a devastating experience that far too many people go through every year. Investing in cutting-edge              research is critical to understanding how this terrible disease operates and we believe that immunotherapy has huge potential to transform the lives of those living with mesothelioma in the UK.”

Liz Darlison, Head of Services at Mesothelioma UK, added: “Mesothelioma has claimed far too many lives in the UK and new treatments are urgently needed for people affected by this cruel disease.

“Evidence on the efficacy of immunotherapy, as well as new treatments that offer the possibility of better outcomes, is essential for people living with mesothelioma in the UK. Mesothelioma UK is committed to funding research and we sincerely wish Dr Maher and his team well with this study.”