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Grant gives new hope to mesothelioma patients

Mesothelioma disease patients will benefit from a $25,000 Slater and Gordon Health Projects & Research Fund grant awarded to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.

Researchers at the ONJCRI in Heidelberg will use the grant to further develop two therapies that target the growth pathways that have previously been shown to be active in mesothelioma.

The Institute’s Associate Professor Tom John said the project was novel in its approach.

“The project targets the environment in which mesotheliomas are able to grow and flourish,” Associate Professor John said.

“Finding specific driver genes within the tumour is now increasingly unlikely as major gene discoveries have already been made.

“Therefore the focus is now on the pathways that mesothelioma relies on to grow. The therapies we are developing aim to switch off the pathway thereby stopping growth,” he said.

Slater and Gordon asbestos national practice group leader, Margaret Kent, said mesothelioma was a deadly disease which is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos.

“Unfortunately, asbestos continues to be a problem in Australia and we have one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world,” Ms Kent said.

“I am thrilled that our law firm can support research that gives hope to mesothelioma sufferers,” she said.

The three year project is a collaboration involving highly respected clinician-scientists within the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and Monash University, where much of the initial work was undertaken in the laboratory of the late Associate Professor Martin Lackmann.

Slater and Gordon’s Health Projects & Research Fund was established to support research that has the potential to make a difference to the lives of people who have a significant disability as a consequence of a catastrophic injury, as well as those living with asbestos-related diseases and occupation-caused cancers.

The fund also supports education initiatives and information sharing projects amongst medical and other health professionals.

Applications for grants of between $2000 and $25,000 will be distributed as part of a $2m philanthropic program in Australia and the UK.