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Cardiff hospital to lead the way in lung cancer research

Velindre hospital where the research will take place (Mick Lobb)

Velindre hospital where the research will take place (Mick Lobb)

A hospital in Cardiff has been chosen to participate in an innovative new study to find a potential treatment for a severe form of lung cancer.

Velindre Hospital in Whitchurch is one of eight clinical trial centres in the UK taking part in research into pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer.

The cancer affects the mesothelium, a thin membrane that lines the inner surface of the chest wall. About 75 per cent of mesotheliomas are pleural mesotheliomas, where the cancerous tissues begin in the chest. Life expectancy from diagnosis is eight to nine months on average.

The ground-breaking study will evaluate the targeting of cancer stem cells in order to find new treatment for the cancer. Pleural mesothelioma is strongly linked to asbestos exposure.

It was reported last year that the East Moors steelworks, which operated in the 1960s and 1970s, and Celsa steelworks in Splott were the sources of growing numbers of claims for asbestos-related diseases. Workers were believed to have been exposed to the material as it was widely used for lagging all pipe work, in a large number of furnaces and roof sheeting.

Festival Law represented 10 cases connected with the site in September 2013 alone. Pete Lodge, an industrial specialist with Festival Law, said most of these cases were won by the claimants and warned it is likely more may surface.

He added: “It was mainly lung cancer claims. Some are worse than others but most will kill you eventually.”

In the UK, the number of deaths caused by the disease each year has grown to 2,543 according to the latest figures. It is the most rapidly increasing cancer amongst women in the UK.

Despite the UK’s control on asbestos in 1985, the number of mesothelioma patients is set to rise sharply over the next 20 years as mesothelioma can take between 30 to 40 years from exposure to asbestos to develop.

Professor Fennell, primary investigator of the new clinical trial, said: “We think this is a new way of being able to target mesothelioma. Laboratory tests show ganetespib is extremely active in mesothelioma – and combined with chemotherapy, this treatment could shrink cancers down and improve symptoms for patients.”

Lung cancer expert and consultant in respiratory medicine Dr Mick Peake said we are seeing a dramatic change in potentially curative treatments for lung cancer.

Welsh Government health minister Mark Drakeford AM said: “We are naturally very proud that Velindre Hospital in Cardiff has been chosen as one of the eight centres that will research potential new treatment for pleural mesothelioma, that could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

“It is testament to the hard work and expertise of all the clinicians that work tirelessly at Velindre.” The trial will involve about 400 mesothelioma patients from eleven countries worldwide.


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