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13 March 2017 | Comment | Article by Richard Green

Mesothelioma research: Why we need more

The asbestos team at Hugh James is proud patrons of the British Lung Foundation. Our aim is to help ensure that the ground breaking research into mesothelioma that they are undertaking can continue.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is solely caused by exposure to asbestos dust. It can sometimes affect the stomach but it is far more common in the lungs. Unfortunately there is currently no cure or effective treatment and life expectancy after diagnosis with this devastating cancer is between 12- 18 months.

While asbestos use was banned in the UK in the late 1990s, we are still seeing large numbers of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma per year. The effects of asbestos exposure take many decades to take hold and as such, 60,000 people are expected to die from mesothelioma in the next 30 years in the UK alone. Currently the UK has the highest mesothelioma mortality rate per capita in the world.

Research into this disease is also incredibly underfunded compared to other cancers. For example, melanoma (a type of skin cancer) has a research spend of £3,512 per death, whilst mesothelioma has a research spend of only £337 per death. Hugh James has therefore joined forces with the British Lung Foundation to improve public awareness about the potential effects of asbestos exposure and to improve research techniques.

Sarah James and Chris Griffiths recently had the chance to catch up with the team at the British Lung Foundation to find out what research Hugh James’s patronage is directly helping to fund. These include the following:

  • Dr Robert Rintoul is building a bank of mesothelioma samples to ensure that research scientists have easy access to enough samples to continue their research. Currently anyone who wishes to conduct research has to collect their own samples which can be very arduous and time consuming.
  • Dr Elizabeth Sage at University College London is undertaking microbiological research into stem cells. She has had initially positive results in attaching cancer killing drugs to stem cells in order to attack mesothelioma cells.
  • Dr John Maher at Kings College London is focussing his research on white blood cells. He has been attaching receptors to the white blood cells to allow them to detect the mesothelioma cell proteins, latch on to them and destroy the cells themselves.

The British Lung Foundation has also been lobbying the government and MPs to increase funding and awareness of the disease. Last year they managed to secure cross party support to increase long term funding and it was announced in the budget in 2016 that £5m from the Department of Health was earmarked to establish a mesothelioma research centre. This will then be the focal point for all research into mesothelioma and hopefully move us one step closer to finding a cure for this terrible disease.

Unfortunately for those diagnosed now there is no cure. The only option open to those diagnosed with the disease is to try to right the wrong by claiming compensation. While compensation can never make up for what mesothelioma sufferers have lost, Hugh James passionately believes that their former employers or others who negligently exposed them to asbestos dust should be held to account. Compensation can ease money worries at such a difficult time, make sufferers more comfortable or allow them to leave some money to their family once they are gone. Hugh James act on a no win, no fee basis to ensure that mesothelioma sufferers keep 100% of their compensation as the responsible party is pursued for the payment of fees. This means that claimants are under no financial risk themselves.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from this disease, or any other asbestos related condition, then please contact a member of the asbestos team at Hugh James on 0808 1599 896 for a confidential chat.

Author bio

Richard Green


Richard is a Partner and Head of the Asbestos Litigation team. Richard specialises in asbestos-related disease claims and has recovered millions of pounds in compensation for his clients.

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