World-first clinical trial to test personalised treatments for aggressive form of lung cancer
The first-ever trial into delivering personalised treatment for mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, opened at the HOPE Clinical Trials Facility at Leicester's Hospitals today (Tuesday 29 January).
Funded by the British Lung Foundation thanks to a donation from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, the Mesothelioma Stratified Therapy (MiST) trial will assign targeted treatments tailored specifically to an individual’s mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma develops in tissue that lines the space between the lungs and the chest wall (known as the pleural membrane) and forms after several years following the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibres.
Mesothelioma can take several decades to develop, depending on the parts of the body affected and the extent of exposure to asbestos, with some patients only experiencing symptoms when the disease reaches an advanced stage.
Asbestos was widely used as a building material until it was banned in 1999. People who worked in heavy industry, and their friends and families, are at greater risk of developing mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Office for National Statistics figures show that only 6% of men and 10% of women with mesothelioma live for longer than five years after diagnosis.
Chemotherapy has been the only approved standard treatment for more than a decade, and is capable of controlling mesothelioma for only a limited time - on average six months. Recently it has been found that mesotheliomas differ genetically between patients, and this finding raises the hope that personalised treatments may be found that are more effective and less toxic.
Professor Dean Fennell, Chair of the Mesothelioma Research Programme at the University of Leicester, consultant oncologist at Leicester’s Hospitals and scientific lead for the MiST trial, said:
“The sad reality is that we have very limited effective treatment options on the NHS for mesothelioma. There is a desperate need for more effective therapy. As a result, few patients live for a long time after diagnosis.
“By matching new drugs to the individual’s type of mesothelioma, for the first time, we have an unparalleled opportunity to rationally choose drugs most likely to control a patient’s mesothelioma. We hope that MiST will accelerate advances in extending survival and quality of life for patients with this aggressive cancer.”
Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, added:
“Finding new treatments for mesothelioma will be a huge challenge. However, with advanced techniques which enable us to understand the human genome in minute detail, we can make big strides in our understanding of how this terrible disease works. We hope that this trial will make significant progress towards the day where nobody is left breathless by mesothelioma.”
Victor Dahdaleh added:
“The Victor Dahdaleh Foundation is delighted to support this vital research and be working with the British Lung Foundation and the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust’s Mesothelioma Research Programme who are leading this trial.
“New treatments are urgently needed to make a difference for people affected by this cruel disease. We are proud to be supporting cutting-edge research which offers hope to mesothelioma patients across the UK.
“This programme is an important part of the foundation’s support to a range of global healthcare and educational initiatives to help make a difference where we can and give back.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the study, please contact the MiST team on firstname.lastname@example.org.