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Cancer sufferer funds treatment through running club
By Martin Vennard
BBC News Reporter

Steve Lee, the research supervisor Dr Adrian Dobbs and PhD student Seble Lemma
Steve Lee has raised 40,000 for cancer research

New research has begun into a possible treatment for a terminal form of lung cancer, thanks to a sufferer of the disease from Charvil.

Steve Lee and his running club, Reading Roadrunners raised more than £40,000 to pay for the research into mesothelioma.

That sum has been matched by Queen Mary, University of London, where the study is taking place.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is generally caused by exposure to asbestos.

The researchers are synthesising a naturally-occurring compound, which is believed to kill mesothelioma cells.

It is hoped that the compound can be used to treat sufferers.

Mr Lee, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007, visited the team.

Grim prospects

He said: "Up till now the prospects for anyone with mesothelioma have been pretty grim and dire, so any glimmer of hope of a treatment is just wonderful."

"It's great to be able to meet those involved and ask them things about the research."

The study is likely to take several years to complete, but Steve said he was not worried that he may not benefit from it.

"I'm simply glad that my efforts have contributed in some small way towards helping future sufferers," he said.

The research is being supervised by organic chemist Dr Adrian Dobbs, whose own father died of the asbestos-related disease in 1998.

He said his interest in the work was both personal and professional.

"My mother and I had experience of the disease at a time when there was no treatment and now hopefully we can contribute to advances in developing one," he said.

Japanese scientists first reported the compound's effects on mesothelioma.

Steve Lee with his wife Ros Lee
Steve Lee is a member of Reading Roadrunners club

"I think it's very unlikely that that we'll ever have a complete cure, but if their data are correct then it could certainly have a very powerful effect on giving longevity and a massively improved quality of life," said Dr Dobbs.

Working with Dr Dobbs is PhD student Seble Lemma.

She said of Steve: "It feels very good to actually meet him in person and get to know him. It's really a great opportunity."

Many mesothelioma sufferers die within a year of being diagnosed, but Steve believes his years of long-distance running have helped him survive longer.

Steve ran the Reading half marathon with his wife Ros in 2009 as part of the efforts to raise the money and is still collecting for research into the disease. Donations can be made via the fundraising website.

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