Scientists at Australia’s Asbestos Disease Research Institute (ADRI) report that they have identified a way to manipulate the genes that control the growth of mesothelioma tumors, reports an article penned by 9 News.com, a media outlet in that country.
“I think we’ve been working on this for a number of years now and we always knew there was the potential here to do something with these small gene regulators, but it was all a matter of getting all the pieces in the puzzle so that we could take it forward,” reported scientist Glen Reid, who is in charge of the lab work at ADRI.
He and his fellow scientists rejoiced at the findings and look forward to offering more mesothelioma victims treatment with this gene regulating process.
“We started out with a very small idea and it turned out to be something that was useful in a patient in real life. I think that’s quite amazing,” Reid adds, noting that some 10,000 Australians have died of mesothelioma in years past and many more are expected to succumb to the disease in the future.
Australia’s long history of asbestos use
Several Australians are participating in the trial that’s testing out the gene regulators, the article reports. Brad Sermon, who worked as a plumber for more than three decades, is one of those individuals.
Sermon cut asbestos-containing fiberboard sheets at his job, grinding and smashing them and creating dust that he inhaled on a daily basis, despite the fact that he did wear a mask.
Sermon and the other patients in the trial have had treatments with immunotherapy drugs thus far. Many of them already went through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery prior to receiving the immunotherapy.
During the next stages of the treatment, the clinical trial participants will have the gene regulator administered into the pleura, the lining between the lung and the chest cavity. Their progress will then be tracked and compared to others not receiving the treatment.
Sadly, however, ADRI is currently lacking the funds to complete the trial and the Australian government has chosen not to provide funding for the remainder of the trial. They report that $2 million is needed to continue and are asking Australians to contribute to the cause.
Such problems aren’t unusual for those who research mesothelioma treatment. Even in the United States, because mesothelioma remains a fairly rare form of cancer, research has historically been underfunded. No wonder breakthroughs have been few and far between.
So far, in the U.S., immunotherapy trials with meso patients have appeared promising, with drugs such as Opdivo and Keytruda slowing the progress of mesothelioma and the growth of tumors.
With discoveries such as the one made in Australia perhaps eventually making their way to the U.S., more of the 2,500 or so Americans who die each year of mesothelioma could expect a better prognosis.