Characterisation of thoracic malignancies using archival human tissue

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Histopathological and molecular and characterisation of thoracic malignancies using archival diagnostic human tissue samples



  • Contact name

    John Le Quesne

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    University of Leicester

  • Research summary

    Summary of Research

    Thoracic malignancies including lung cancer and mesothelioma together account for around 35,000 cancer related deaths in the UK and most cases are associated with a poor prognosis. This project aims to use surplus diagnostic material and anonymised patient data from a large diagnostic archive to improve our understanding of these tumours and as a result develop clinically useful prognostic and predictive biomarkers. Spare archival tissues will be incorporated into a 'tissue microarray' with an accompanying database. The project will involve studying the histopathological characteristics of these tumours as well as changes that occur within their DNA, RNA and protein.

    Summary of Results

    Title: Histopathological and molecular characterisation of thoracic malignancies using archival diagnostic human tissue samples

    The project was started at the University of Leicester, and research activities took place there and in the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester. Work was funded by both of these organisations, and the study employed two dedicated tissue data specialists for several years.
    The central idea was to use left-over tissue from cancer operations in Leicester to learn about tumour biology. To achieve this, we obtained ethical permission to use this tissue which is stored in hospital pathology departments. We carefully made lists of patients who had had surgery, and brought together this spare tissue with lots of patient data. Everything was anonymised to maintain confidentiality.
    We collected huge amounts of image data by scanning glass slides, and by combining samples from archival preserved diagnostic tissue samples. These images and tissues have been used in several projects, mostly in the University of Leicester but also by collaborators in London and elsewhere. I particular, we and our collaborators were able to show:
    • One of the key ways that cancer cells alter their biology is by changing the way the regulate the synthesis ofprotein
    Statin anti-cholesterol drug use alters the way the immune system attacks lung cancer
    • Many lung cancers depend upon a particular stress response, and that we can target this as a treatment
    • Levels of immune system cells predict patient response to treatment and are also linked to mutations in the tumours
    Many other projects are continuing to use the data and resources made by the project, which are now being looked after by the Glasgow NHS biorepository.
    This project has been, and continues to be, incredibly valuable, and we are immensely grateful to all of the patients who have contributed to it.

  • REC name

    East Midlands - Leicester South Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    22 Sep 2014

  • REC opinion

    Favourable Opinion