Runner helps to fund research into mesothelioma treatment

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Runner helps to fund research into mesothelioma treatment

30th December 2010

A 65 year old runner from Reading who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007 has defied post-diagnosis life expectancy predictions and helped raise more that £40,000 towards mesothelioma research at Queen Mary, University of London.

Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive fatal lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Typically symptoms do not appear until up to 40 years after original exposure with post-diagnosis life expectancy given between 12-18 months.

Bridget Collier, Head of the Industrial Disease team at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: "Running enthusiast Steve Lee was told he could be dead within a year. Today he is very much still alive and thanks in part to the tremendous efforts of himself and his running club the Reading Roadrunners, continued research into a possible mesothelioma treatment is now being carried out."

Mesothelioma cases continue to rise in the UK with 2450 deaths per annum and a 50 per cent increase each year. A peak is not expected until 2020. There is no known cure for mesothelioma and traditional chemotherapeutic cancer treatments have had little impact on the disease.

At present, very little in the way of mesothelioma research is underway and consequently there are no drugs currently in development. The mesothelioma market is not deemed large enough and there hadn't been any reported competent lead compounds (natural products) able to be used as a starting point for the drug discovery process. This may all now be about to change.

In 2008, Japanese researchers made an interesting discovery using a therapeutic compound known as JBIR-23, a natural compound derived by isolating strains from the bacteria Streptomyces, found in soil and vegetation. Laboratory tests showed that when used on mice with mesothelioma, the JBIR-23 compound appears to combat mesothelioma cells preventing further growth of tumours, without weight loss or any other observable side effects.

"JBIR-23 not only prevents tumour growth but also leads to a reduction in the volume of tumours," said Bridget. "This discovery is potentially very important as JBIR-23 is the first natural compound to have demonstrated significant activity against mesothelioma."

With money raised by the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund as well as contributions from people such as Steve Lee and his Reading running colleagues, the research first pioneered by Japanese scientists is now being continued at a specialist clinical mesothelioma research unit based within the Queen Mary, University of London Medical School at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London.

"When Steve Lee was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007 the last thing he imagined was that he might eventually help find a treatment for the disease," said Bridget. "Steve, who believes he contracted the disease whilst working on building sites as a student, continues to raise money for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund, who have helped set up this groundbreaking project at Queen Mary."

The researchers at Queen Mary, University of London have begun synthesising JBIR-23 in an effort to produce it in sufficient quantities so that tests can establish whether it can be used to treat sufferers.

"Up until now the prospects for anyone with mesothelioma have been pretty grim, so any glimmer of hope for a possible treatment is wonderful news," said Bridget. "It is perhaps unlikely that we'll ever have a complete cure for mesothelioma, but if a treatment is found it could certainly have a profound effect on extending longevity and granting a massively improved quality of life to those suffering with this terrible disease."

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - BBC