A hospital in Cambridge, England has opened Europe’s first dedicated mesothelioma tissue bank, an important step forward for doctors and researchers working to develop a treatment for this aggressive cancer.
Although rare at 2,300 cases annually in the UK, mesothelioma is a serious and growing problem in that country, which now has the world’s highest per capita mesothelioma mortality rate. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with no known cure. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. The ‘Mesobank UK’ tissue bank recently launched at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge (a part of Cambridge University Health Partners) will provide vital tissue samples and anonymous, detailed clinical information which can be used to conduct research studies.
In a hospital press release, Dr. Robert Rintoul, who will lead the new tissue bank said, “In research terms, mesothelioma has been a neglected cancer for far too long. The opening of the Mesobank could really help change this, by making it quicker, easier and cheaper for researchers to undertake the kind of research that could deliver real advances in our understanding and treatment of this devastating disease.”
According to the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, which helped fund Mesobank UK, the samples will be kept in a centralized storage facility. Pathology samples from 1,000 mesothelioma patients will be used to build a Tissue Microarray, which will allow scientists to process and evaluate hundred of tumor cell samples at once. Because certain types of experiments can only be conducted on fresh tumor samples, blood and clinical data will also be collected from 300 patients over the next 3 years. The Mesobank will offer 20 new mesothelioma cell lines for study and will accept tissue and blood samples from a collaborative group of doctors and scientists across the UK.
The British Lung Foundation also helped pay for the project.
Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Tissue Bank, Mesobank UK, July 1, 2012, Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund website.