Receive a FREE Mesothelioma Treatment
Information Packet


Bid to Prove Lung Cancer Drug Works

Byline: By Paul McMillan Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), July 1, 2006

A memorial fund set up by an asbestos widow has given researchers pounds 100,000 to pay for more tests into an anti-cancer drug which eases suffering.

The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, set up in May 2002 by Mr Knighton's wife Christine, has chosen the Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment, attached to Newcastle General Hospital, for its first grant.

A two-year study project will look at why individual patients diagnosed with mesothelioma respond better to Alimta than other, possibly cheaper, drugs.

The group's decision comes days after the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) concluded the drug would not be recommended for use except as part of trials in England or Wales.

NICE said Alimta, developed at Newcastle University, was no more effective than similar, cheaper drugs.

Thousands of North East cancer sufferers were given the chance to get life-extending Alimta free of charge following the Chronicle's Give Us A Chance campaign last year.

Mrs Knighton believes the drug does improve the quality of life for mesothelioma sufferers and hopes the study will change NICE's opinion.

The 59-year-old, from Wallsend, said: "It will develop tests for mesothelioma sufferers to find out which patients will benefit from Alimta. It would make it more cost-effective because it would identify which patients would be suitable, those who would not suffer any side-effects. If you can do that, it gives the person a longer quality of life.

"When this award first went out there was really little in mesothelioma research. I am hoping this will widen the field."

Christine's husband died in 2001 after he was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Royal Navy. Mick was 60 but had been exposed to asbestos as a young man. The condition, a chest cancer, can take up to 40 years to manifest itself.

After announcing the grant, the fund received applications from eight projects across the country but, after a vote and discussions with advisers from the British Lung Foundation, settled on the Tyneside bid.

"It's absolutely fabulous to think it will be used in the North East. The region has a high incidence rate," said Christine.

"We are hoping to go back to the Government and be able to say, 'This drug has a future.' At the moment we feel a little bit let down."

Alimta has worked for former pipe fitter Stan Easton, 70, of North Shields, who hopes the study will help others.

He said: "I don't know if it will work for everyone but it may give some relief to more people."

Prof Hilary Calvert, clinical director of the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, will be supervising the research.

He said: "Christine has made sure the money is well-spent. I think we have a real chance of improving the treatment for people with mesothelioma as a result."