Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a highly aggressive neoplasm caused by neoplastic transformation of mesothelial cells that line the body’s serous cavities and the internal organs. In the majority of patients mesothelioma is localized within the pleural cavity. At this moment, no curative medical procedures are available. With median survival of 9 to 12 month after first signs of illness, the prognosis is poor. Mesothelioma is strongly associated with the exposure to airborne asbestos particles. Although the relation between exposure to asbestos and the occurrence of disease was already reported by the ancient Greek geographer Strabo and the roman naturist Gaius Plinius Secundus in 23 AD*, the first scientific report was published in the 1960’s by Wagner et al. He reported a strong correlation between exposure to asbestos and the occurrence of mesothelioma, among asbestos-mine-workers in South-African’s Cape Province. Studies of Stumphius et al. noticed an increased incidence in mesothelioma cases among shipyard-workers in the “Royal Schelde” shipyard. Even though it became more distinct that asbestos exposure was one of the main causes for mesothelioma, the commercial use of asbestos peaked during the seventies. Tons of asbestos-containing materials are still present in buildings, ships and infrastructures. Production and usage of asbestos-containing material maintained in the Netherlands till the interdiction of asbestos-use in 1993. As millions of people were exposed to carcinogenic fibres, with accompanying serious health risks undisputed there is a responsibility for governments to support mesothelioma research. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice has recently announced that the U.K. government is obligated to address the medical aspects of mesothelioma. It is a misconception that with the ban of asbestos-use, the occurrence of mesothelioma will disappear within the following decades. Many people world wide are incidentally exposed to asbestos fibres. During the collapse of the New York World Trade Centre in 2001 the citizens of New York not only faced the tragedy of a terrorist attack, but as a consequence thousands of people were exposed to a dust-cloud containing 400 tons of asbestos fibres (4% of all fibres within the dust-cloud). Soon after 9/11 the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) was established to fund research, investigating new treatment strategies to cure mesothelioma.

Additional Metadata
Keywords asbestos, cancer, dentritic cells, immune system, lung cancer, mesothelioma
Promotor H.C. Hoogsteden (Henk)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sponsor Stichting Asbestkanker, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), Fonds Schiedam/Vlaardingen, Fonds NutsOhra, Stichting Coolsingel, J.E. Jurriaanse Stichting
Persistent URL
Veltman, J.D. (2010, December 8). Targeting Immune Suppression to Refine Dendritic Cell-based Immunotherapy in Mesothelioma. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from