$6.2 Million for research on Asbestos-Related Diseases

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Summary media release information

27 September 2006
Ministerial Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Claire Kimball, 0413 486 926

The Commonwealth Government has committed $6.2 million through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to establish a new national research centre, the National Research Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, and to provide funding for three years for 11 research projects

The National Research Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases will be based at the University of Western Australia. Research projects will also be funded in Victoria and Queensland.

Research projects include:

  • A study of epidemiology and community consequences of asbestos exposure.
  • The development of sensitive serum markers for improved diagnosis, monitoring and screening for early detection of mesothelioma.
  • An investigation of the importance of specific genes in asbestos-related disorders and their relationship to environmental factors.
  • The development of a national resource for mouse models, to help understand the disease in humans and provide essential data for clinical trials.
  • An investigation of mechanisms to inhibit the body’s collagen production to slow growth in malignant mesothelioma tumours.
  • A combination of conventional therapies with immuno/gene therapies that encourage the body’s own anti-cancer immune responses.
  • An investigation of ways to improve the ability to measure patient responses to chemotherapy treatment.
  • An examination of chromosomal changes in cancer cells to help improve the early detection of mesothelioma.
  • The development of a sustainable community-based response to asbestos-related disease in Aboriginal communities.
  • A study of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were formerly exposed to asbestos and cigarette smoke.

Asbestos-induced cancers such as mesothelioma kill more than 20,000 people worldwide a year and 500 a year in Australia. There is typically a long latency between asbestos exposure and disease diagnosis that makes identification and prognosis difficult.

It is important that Australian researchers are supported in their efforts to study and ultimately combat these devastating diseases.

Media contacts: Claire Kimball, 0413 486 926