Ray of hope for nearly 15,000 Americans who die each year of asbestos-related disease

Washington, D.C. – (June 16, 2015) – A man diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013 saw his tumors virtually disappear within two months of completing an experimental treatment developed by Australian cancer researchers, a newly published study reports.

Bradley Selmon, 51, who was exposed to asbestos over years of working as a plumber in Sydney, shared the good news in an interview with New Zealand Herald: “The pain stopped. All of a sudden I could yawn without restriction. Now, I can go bushwalking and walk up steep steps – anything I want to do.”

Scientists at the Asbestos Disease Research Institute in Sydney developed the pioneering treatment. The Institute worked with an Australian biotech firm, EngenelC, to come up with a new way of delivering drugs to mesothelioma patients using a combination of nanotechnology and antibodies.

“A nanocell is a delivery vehicle,” said Dr. Glen Reid, an associate professor at the University of Sydney Medical School who led the team, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Company. “You can package basically anything in there that you like, so a chemotherapy drug – or in our case a mini-gene – and then it’s injected into the body.”

Selmon, however, was the only one of 10 participants in the phase one trial to show such impressive results. The others either stabilized or continued to decline.

“I feel very lucky because I realize other people may not be so lucky,” he said in an interview.

“It’s an amazing response for this patient,” said Dr. Steven Kao of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer research facility in Sydney, one of the other scientists involved. “The mesothelioma is now almost invisible and the condition of my patient has also improved.”

The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and it is almost always fatal. A newly diagnosed person may have only several months to live. EWG Action Fund estimates that 12,000 to 15,000 Americans die each year of asbestos-related disease, nearly 3,000 of them from mesothelioma. Since 1999, nearly 40,000 Americans have died of mesothelioma.

Results of the Australian study were published June 15 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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 EWG Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that is a separate sister organization of the Environmental Working Group. The mission of EWG Action Fund is to protect health and the environment by educating the public and lobbying on a wide range of environmental issues. Donations to EWG Action Fund are not tax-deductible.

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