University of Leicester researchers are leading two major trials into treatments for a type of cancer which affects those exposed to asbestos.
Professor Dean Fennell, of the University's Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, is leading two groundbreaking trials into mesothelioma - a form of lung cancer strongly linked with exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma most commonly starts in the inner lining of the chest wall, causing it to thicken, reducing lung capacity - which in turn puts a strain on other organs including the heart.
Since the 1960s, it has been known that the disease can be triggered by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.
Despite the UK's ban on asbestos issued in 1985, the number of deaths caused by the disease each year has grown from 153 in 1968 to 2,321 in 2009 - the highest incidence in the world.
This number is set to continue to rise sharply over the next 20 years, with a peak coming in 2020.
Two studies involving the University of Leicester aim to test new potential treatments which could improve survival and quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
Meso2, a study funded by Synta Pharmaceuticals, aims to test the effectiveness of a drug called ganetespib in preventing mesothelioma tumours.
Ganetespib inhibits the action of a protein in cells called heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) - which is required for the stabilization and proper functioning of many proteins required for tumour growth.
The trial will involve around 140 patients across the UK, and is being led by Professor Fennell.
Professor Fennell said: "We think this is a new way of being able to target mesothelioma. Laboratory tests show ganetespib is extremely active in mesothelioma - and combined with chemotherapy, this treatment could shrink cancers down and improve symptoms for patients."