Thursday, 16 July 2009

Response to Mesothelioma Mate's Enquiry

This is a response to one of our meso friends who was enquiring about research and funds, see what you make of it. This has been published with her permission.
Thank you for your email of 26 June to Ann Keen about research into mesothelioma. I have been asked to reply.

As far as funding is concerned, the Government invests substantially in health research. The total budget of the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and of the Medical Research Council is £1.5billion for this year (2008-09) and is set to rise to over £1.7billion by 2010-11. A significant part of that investment, currently over 20 per cent, goes on cancer research.

While the Department does not have precise data on the proportion of cancer research funding which supports basic and applied research specifically concerned with mesothelioma, it can tell you that the UK Cancer Research Network is currently supporting four studies for people with mesothelioma. Details of these studies can be found on the NIHR website by clicking on the ‘NIHR Clinical Research Portfolio’ link on the right-hand side of the screen, then follow the links to ’Search the NIHR CRN Portfolio’. Select ’cancer’ in the topic box then scroll down the page to ‘lung’. In addition, three further studies are in active development.

From analyses done by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), lung cancer research currently receives less funding than research into other common tumour sites. Again, this fact has to be set in context: 40 per cent of total public and charity funded cancer research in this country can be attributed to a particular disease site, with the other 60 per cent being either fundamental research or research relevant to all tumour sites. Some at least of this basicand generic research will have the potential to help in our understanding of lung cancer and its treatment.

The other factors mentioned above, are set out and discussed in the NCRI Lung Cancer Strategic Planning Group’s report Lung Cancer Research in the UK 2006, which was published in October 2006. They include:

· the difficulties of undertaking applied research (that is, research involving patients) in this area;
· the influence which the attitude of doctors and researchers to lung cancer has on their level of interest in research; and
· what the report describes as the lack of ‘research tools’.

These, and a number of other issues, are set out clearly in the report which can be accessed on the NCRI’s website by following the links to ‘publications’, ‘reports’ then ‘2006’.

The explanation the Department has of the reasons for the relative neglect of lung cancer research is important, not least because it provides a basis for action. The Strategic Planning Group set out a number of proposals in chapter eight of the above report, which the NCRI and their partners have since taken forward. The list included the following proposal specific to mesothelioma:

The Department of Health for England is developing a framework for mesothelioma services, which will also facilitate research. The NCRI Lung Cancer Clinical Studies Group will consider how to increase the number of mesothelioma patients who can be offered clinical trials through the NCRN network, and any tissue banking initiative will include mesothelioma .

As you are aware, the Department’s mesothelioma framework was published on 27 February 2007 . The framework includes a recommendation that all appropriate mesothelioma patients should be offered the option of entering a clinical trial, where one relevant to their clinical condition is open for recruitment. The framework can be accessed on the Department’s website by typing ‘mesothelioma framework’ in the search box and scrolling down to ‘mesothelioma framework (final)’.

The Mesothelioma Sub Group of the NCRI Lung Cancer Clinical Studies Group is actively developing three new clinical trials for people with mesothelioma - two involving chemotherapy and one involving surgery.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Corbett
Customer Service Centre


jeff said...

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