LONDON, November 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Victor Dahdaleh Foundation has this week made a £5million donation to the British Lung Foundation to fund vital research into mesothelioma, matching UK government funding announced in March. The donation is the largest ever made to the BLF. The landmark gift from the charitable organisation of Canadian philanthropist Victor Dahdaleh will support the research teams at the University of Leicester and Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge, both of which will join forces with the government-funded National Mesothelioma Research Centre at Imperial College to develop new treatments for the disease. In a further boost to mesothelioma research and to maximise patient benefit, the British Lung Foundation will also establish a Mesothelioma Research Network, to include the research programmes at Leicester, Papworth and Imperial together with other specialist mesothelioma centres across the UK. Speaking at the announcement on Tuesday, Victor Dahdaleh said: "The Foundation is delighted to be working with the British Lung Foundation and the teams at Leicester, Papworth and Imperial to support this vital research, ultimately to find a cure for mesothelioma. "While the UK already has world leading expertise in studying and treating mesothelioma, we hope that our donation, matching the government funding announced earlier this year, will enhance research programmes and enable closer collaboration between all those working hard to bring tangible benefits to patients affected by this dreadful disease. "The professionalism and commitment already shown by all the teams involved give us confidence that together we can make a real difference over the next four years." Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which affects the chest or abdomen, and is particularly associated with exposure to asbestos fibres. There are more than 5,400 sufferers in the UK, and numbers have increased over the last four decades. With no cure, 2,500 people die in Britain each year from the disease, often with frightening speed - the average survival time after diagnosis is just 11 months. Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation said: "This unprecedented and generous donation from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation means we can co-ordinate a network of researchers into mesothelioma and ensure that the number and scope of research projects and clinical trials can be greatly increased. This investment will help to speed up much needed progress in finding better treatments and, eventually, a cure for this awful killer disease.