The grant is the BLF’s largest ever, matching pound-for-pound U.K. government funding to the advocacy group announced in March 2016, and will be used to support groundbreaking research into mesothelioma.
The BLF has formed a Mesothelioma Research Network, involving programs at the University of Leicester and Papworth Hospital National Health Services Foundation Trust in Cambridge. Both will join efforts with the government-funded National Mesothelioma Research Centre at London’s Imperial College to develop new treatments and ultimately discover a cure for the rare cancer.
The Victor Dahdaleh Foundation, a charity founded by Canadian billionaire and philanthropist Victor Dahdaleh, supports education, health-related research and social and economic development worldwide.
“We are delighted to be working in coordination with the British Lung Foundation, the U.K. Department of Health and the research team to support the quest for new treatments for this terrible disease,” Dahdaleh said at the ceremony. “The U.K. already has leading expertise in mesothelioma research, and we believe that by working together in this way we can do even more. The professionalism we have already seen from everyone involved has been second to none.”
Despite its rarity, an estimated 5,400 British citizens have mesothelioma, and 2,500 die of the disease annually. Since the 1970s, the number of mesothelioma cases has increased by nearly 500 percent, though projections show that by 2035, U.K. incidence rates will fall to as few as three cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Mesothelioma, which is usually linked to asbestos exposure, is incurable. Survival time after diagnosis averages just 11 months, and current treatments are mainly palliative, focusing on prolonging life rather than curing the condition.
“It is hugely exciting for all of us here to be officially marking the start of a new chapter in research into mesothelioma,” said BLF Chief Executive Penny Woods, MD, in a press release. “Along with the government funding announced last year, this generous support from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation will enable us to coordinate a network of highly skilled researchers and greatly increase the size and scope of clinical trials. We are also confident that this donation will prompt further funding and allow us to continue to expand the program. We will not rest until we find a cure.”
Dahdaleh is owner and chairman of Dadco, a privately owned investment, manufacturing and trading group. He’s also a longtime advocate of British-Canadian relations, promoting closer bilateral ties through his foundation.