“Glimmer of Hope” for Asbestos Cancer Sufferers

Australian scientists believe they may have made a breakthrough which could benefit people suffering from asbestos related cancer.

Although this type of cancer only affects a small amount of people, Australia has the highest number of recorded cases and about 650 new cases are diagnosed annually. Now there may be hope for these sufferers.

This type of cancer, despite being rare is incurable. It takes around 35 years to develop however once a patient is diagnosed they typically die within 18 months.

The breakthrough, made by The Asbestos Disease Research Institute was made by conducting experiments on mice that were infected with malignant mesothelioma transferred to them from human sufferers. The researchers are pleased that the treatment is showing “remarkable results”.

The following excerpt from www.adri.org.au explains further:

Today, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research was at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) in the Bernie Banton Centre for the announcement of a clinical trial into a newly developed drug therapy for the treatment of mesothelioma.


Following a three-year study to characterise the gene expression in mesothelioma, research revealed that a particular family of microRNAs (small genes involved in the regulation of cell and tumour biology) was significantly decreased.


This family of microRNAs is well known for its involvement in the biology of other cancers, but this is the first time it has been linked to mesothelioma.



When levels of the microRNA family were returned to normal in tumour cell lines by adding synthetic versions of the microRNAs, the growth of the tumour cells was inhibited but importantly normal cells remained unaffected.



Source: http://www.adri.org.au/documents/News_item_130731.pdf

Asbestos poses most of a risk to construction workers on renovation sites where there is the chance that old building material which may contain asbestos can be disturbed, releasing the asbestos fibres into the air, where it can be inhaled by human beings, posing a fatal risk to their health.

In a related issue work safety authorities have recently urged builders to check temporary power boards for asbestos. Using and reusing temporary power boards on poles on construction sites is a regular practice however it can expose workers to asbestos fibres.

According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, asbestos containing materials (also known as ACM) are commonly used as an electrical insulator on meter boards and panels and builders need to be aware of this and dispose of any problematic boards.

No licence is required to remove asbestos from temporary power boards because the quantity is less than 250kg however it must still be disposed of properly and in accordance with the “How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice 2011”.

Read more about the medical breakthrough relating to Asbestos cancer at http://www.adri.org.au/documents/News_item_130731.pdf

Read more about the warning from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland relating to temporary power boards at: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/publications/safe/construction/jul13/temp-power-boards-containing-asbestos/index.htm#.Uf90w5Kkxjk