As a response to the increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Australia, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI), located in the Bernie Banton Centre, Concord NSW was opened by the then Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd in January 2009. ADRI was established by the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation (a charitable not-for-profit organisation) dedicated to preventing asbestos related diseases. The ADRI’s primary objectives are to:
Improve the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related disease and at the same time to contribute to more effective measures to prevent exposure to asbestos. With the establishment of the ADRI, as the first stand-alone research institute dedicated to tackling this silent and still increasing epidemic, Australia has taken a vital step forward in the international fight against asbestos-related diseases.
Malignant mesothelioma (MM) almost uniquely caused by asbestos exposure was seldom diagnosed until the 1960’s. Since 2003 approximately 600 Australians were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each year and experts have estimated that there were at least another 1,350 Australians with lung cancer caused by asbestos. A tragic consequence of highly intensive use of asbestos and its products in Australia in the previous century, it is estimated that these figures will continue to rise in the coming decades.
MM is a disease that develops several years after the first exposure to asbestos fibres. However, the disease is currently also diagnosed in young adults incidentally exposed to asbestos fibres as children. The fact that approximately 1/3 of older Australian homes built or renovated before the mid 1980’s contain asbestos, reinforces the significance of Australians undertaking adequate preventive measures.
The prognosis of MM patients is poor and almost all will experience severely debilitating symptoms. MM is only partially responding to the current forms of oncologic therapy and currently there is no curative treatment for the disease. It is therefore critical that we make a substantial investment in medical research to find better means of understanding the specific biology of MM in order to try to achieve better clinical outcomes for people affected by the disease.
Why invest in research in Malignant Mesothelioma (MM)
When compared to other frequently diagnosed cancers such as breast cancer and melanoma, MM has been under-studied. However, outcomes of research conducted into MM provide excellent opportunities for insights into cancer that can be widely applied. For example:
- The carcinogen is known: For most solid human malignancies, the actual carcinogen is not known (even for cigarette smoke where multiple carcinogens have been implicated). The single dominant carcinogen for the development of MM is asbestos. Therefore, its role can be followed in studies ranging from the laboratory to epidemiological studies.
- At-risk cohorts can be identified and followed: One of the keys to studying populations at risk of cancer is to be able to identify those at highest risk. Because individuals who have been exposed to high levels of asbestos are at (high) risk of developing MM (e.g., occupational exposure), these individuals can be followed prospectively over decades in screening/biomarker studies.
- High quality animal models exist: Animal models of MM pathogenesis and treatment can be studied and translated into novel therapies for MM patients.
- Novel treatments are desperately needed: The options for current standard treatment are limited and new agents can be investigated relatively easily.
- Common responsibility: MM as a man-made disease that not only asks for responsibility from employers and legislators, but also from Australian society that as a whole, has permitted intensive asbestos use in the past.
More information about ADRI can be found at www.adri.org.au
The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc (ADFA) is a not-for profit organisation working to provide support to people living with asbestos related diseases, family members, carers and friends.
ADFA is a community based group founded by Trade Unions, victims, families of victims, and concerned citizens to meet the needs of people affected by asbestos related disease and has a long history of being engaged in advocacy work within the Australian community.
Our aim is to reduce the number of people exposed to asbestos and future incidence of asbestos related disease in the Australian community.
We support members living in metropolitan and regional NSW. Monthly support groups are held at Granville, Newcastle & Gosford.
We are actively engaged in health promotion initiatives in the provision of education to the wider community.
More information about ADFA can be found at www.adfa.org.au
Support Groups Around Australia
New South Wales:
- Asbestos Diseases Foundation Australia Inc (ADFA)
- Asbestos Diseases Support Group, Wagga Wagga and District
M: PO Box 8190 Wagga Wagga NSW 2650,
T: (02) 6922 3826, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bernie Banton Foundation
- Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Support Group (AMSG)
- Asbestos Related Disease Support Society Qld Inc (ARDSSQ)
- Asbestos Victims Association SA Inc
- Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia Inc (ADSSA)
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