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GPOL to provide genomic sequencing for mesothelioma

4 Mar 2020

GPOL will provide genomic sequencing for the University of Glasgow-led PREDICT-Meso (Pre-malignant drivers combined with target-drug validation in mesothelioma), a new £5 million mesothelioma project involving a network of researchers across the UK, Spain and Italy.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer that develops in the pleural membrane. The main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos inhalation and the disease usually appears decades after exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used in construction and other industries until the late 1990s. Workers in these industries were exposed to asbestos, but a person can also develop mesothelioma if they lived with someone who worked with asbestos, carrying the fine fibres home on their clothing. Some people who develop mesothelioma might not have been aware they were exposed to it. Glasgow has amongst the highest incidence of mesothelioma in the world due to the previous widespread use of asbestos, notably in the shipbuilding industry.

The international team hope to better understand how mesothelioma develops from its early stages and translate this into better treatments for patients. The five-year programme will see Cancer Research UK and its European partners, Fondazione AIRC and Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), invest £27.4 million in seven new international projects to accelerate lifesaving cancer research.

This project will be led by Kevin Blyth, Honorary Professor at the University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Senior NHS Research Fellow, as part of the Cancer Research UK Accelerator Awards programme.

It’s been difficult to build a network of scientists, with enough cases of the disease to build a thorough understanding of how to best treat mesothelioma. And this has left people with the disease very few treatment options. 

In the future it’s likely that the global incidence of mesothelioma will continue to increase, as there are many countries that still don’t regulate the use of asbestos. So, it’s important to build a research community now and improve our understanding to help those affected by this cancer.

We’re proud to have received the Accelerator Award and funding from Cancer Research UK. We are well-placed in Glasgow to lead this new research network. With the help of patients in Scotland and across Europe, and our international colleagues, we hope to radically improve the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. We’ll be using artificial intelligence and advanced laboratory and imaging techniques to help us get there

Professor Kevin Blyth


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