Australian authorities are warning consumers to avoid a brand of Crayons made in China that have tested positive for asbestos, a silicate mineral that can cause devastating health problems for people exposed to it. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said that so far only trace amounts of asbestos have been found in children’s crayons marketed with images of Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse, and Peppa Pig. However, the agency added that the “presence of asbestos in crayons at any level is unacceptable because asbestos is a prohibited import.” (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Australia’
From Australia comes a story of the extreme harassment, abuse, and other malicious treatment that whistleblowers who try to expose wrongdoing often must face. (more…)
An Australian company called Octfolio has launched what it is touting as a “pioneering technology platform” that it says will help achieve the government’s goal of ridding the country of asbestos by 2030. (more…)
In Australia, which has the highest per capital rate of mesothelioma in the world, doctors and researchers are seeing a new wave of younger people diagnosed. They call these patients the “third wave” or the “bystander wave.” (more…)
Bionomics, an Australian biotechnology company, has announced the beginning of Phase II clinical trials for its vascular disrupting agent BNC105 as a treatment for mesothelioma. The company announced its plans to test the drug on mesothelioma patients in December 2009. It will partner with the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group (ALTG) and the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) Clinical Trial Centre.
The clinical trial involves 60 patients at 12 centers in Australia.It is a single arm, unblinded study for patients with mesothelioma who have progressed on platinum/pemetrexed chemotherapy. BNC105 will be administered on days 1 and 8 of 21-day cycles. Treatment will continue until disease progression. The primary objective is to determine the tumor response rate.
Principal investigator for the trial is Dr. Anna Nowak, professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Australia and consultant medical oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. According to information on the company’s web site, Bionomics has already commenced Phase II testing of the anti-cancer properties of BNC105 in renal cancer in the United States. The commencement of this Phase II trial follows a successful BNC105 Phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced cancers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Western Hospital, Austin Health and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Dr. Nowak says, “Mesothelioma remains a substantial problem in Australia and other parts of the world. An early clinical trial of BNC105 suggested some promise in mesothelioma. This Phase II trial will provide hope and an opportunity to participate in a research study for people with mesothelioma who do not have other options for treatment.”
Dr. Deborah Rathjen, CEO and Managing Director of Bionomics, says the company expects to report interim results of this study in mesothelioma patients in early 2011.
In 2005, Bionomics reports there were 597 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia and in 2006 there were 486 deaths attributed to mesothelioma.
More information about the clinical trial is available online. Inquiries may be directed to:
Dr Deborah Rathjen
CEO & Managing Director
+61 8 8354 6101 / 0418 160 425
+61 3 9620 3333
One of the many mesothelioma community members on Facebook posted a question today about a clinical trial being conducted at the Mesothelioma Center, located at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. MyMeso discussed this clinical trial in a July post. The clinical trial is a program of targeted radiation and chemotherapy protocol for pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lung’s lining almost always caused by asbestos. In response to the Facebook thread, meso survivor and awareness advocate (read: warrior) Debbie Brewer, who many of you know from her story and updates here (thanks Debbie!), mentioned a similar study currently ongoing in Australia.
Debbie provided a link to a story published in November 2009 by ABC News that outlines the work of specialists at Austin Health Centre in Victoria. The treatment, spearheaded by Dr. Malcolm Feigen, a radiation oncologist at the Centre, uses high doses of radiotherapy, concentrated on specific areas of the lining of the lungs to target mesothelioma tumors.
According to the ABC report, 13 patients participated in a pilot program to test this new targeted radiotherapy treatment. Most had some surgery prior to the radiotherapy treatment, and some also had chemotherapy before or after the treatment, although Dr. Feigen believes the patients showed the most benefit primarily as a result of the radiotherapy regimen.
Participants in the U.S. clinical trial at the Mesothelioma Center receive a multi-modality therapy that incorporates surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy in combination.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Feigen about the Australian research, which was broadcast on ABC’s AM morning current affairs program.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that biotechnology company Bionomics is set to begin a Phase II clinical trial of its anti-cancer drug, BNC105, at up to 12 cancer treatment centers across Australia. The company plans to include 60 mesothelioma patients in the drug trial.
According to the Herald report, this Phase II study comes on the heels of a successful Phase I clinical trial of Bionomics’ BNC105, which was administered to patients with advanced cancers at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Western Hospital, Austin Health and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Bionomics has contacted the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group (ALTG) and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) to conduct the clinical trial. No date has yet been set for the trial start.
BNC105 is described as “a novel anti-cancer agent which is both a vascular disrupting agent (VDA) and an inhibitor of cancer cell proliferation.”
For more information about the Phase II clinical trial of BNC105 for mesothelioma patients in Australia, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more information about ongoing clinical trials in Australia and New Zealand by visiting the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) at www.anzctr.org.au.
An Australian artist, photographer Chris Ireland, has created an emotional exhibit titled “Breathe,” which captures the feelings of 14 women who have lost their husbands to mesothelioma and other asbestos cancer and disease. Ireland spent time with each woman in an effort to understand her particular story, and to create a photo that would attempt to convey not only her emotions, but a bit of the man she loved.
The exhibit debuted at the Australian Centre for Photography on July 17 (ended Aug. 22) and will next be featured at Latrobe Regional Gallery beginning Sept. 5 and running through October 4.
According to a World News Australia report about the project, Ireland was inspired with the idea for the exhibit after learning about mesothelioma in his mid-teens when a friend’s father passed away from the disease. He feels that the fact that mesothelioma is currently incurable adds to the poignancy of the loss, and says he hopes that by sharing these ladies’ stories, he can help raise awareness about the dangers of exposure to asbestos.
The World News quotes Ireland as saying, “…these ladies have gone through pain, they deserve to be heard and other people should avoid the same process.”
More information about the exhibit, including its striking images, can be found at Chris Ireland’s web site.
The Latrobe Regional Gallery is located at 138 Commercial Road, Morwell VIC. The exhibit will be open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The results of a study published recently in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery supports the use of extrapleural pneumonectomy-based multimodal therapy in carefully selected patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The Journal is published by The American Association for Thoracic Surgery.
According to the research summary, the objective of the study was to evaluate the perioperative and long-term outcomes associated with extrapleural pneumonectomy for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the chest cavity and lungs. Other forms of mesothelioma include pericardial, which affects the lining of the heart and is extremely rare; and peritoneal, which affects the lining of the abdomen. Mesothelioma is atributed almost exclusively to asbestos exposure.
According to the Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery, extrapleural pneumonectomy was introduced in the 1940s for the treatment of extensive infections of the lung and pleural space. Over the past 20 years, the extrapleural pneumonectomy technique has been modified and applied to the treatment of locally advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma, achieving substantial reductions in mortality. The surgery involves the removal of the lung with visceral and parietal pleurae, pericardium and diaphragm.
Researchers selected 70 patients between October 1994 and April 2008 to undergo the procedure. Prognostic factors included age, gender, side of disease, asbestos exposure, histology, positron emission tomography, date of surgery, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, completeness of cytoreduction, lymph node involvement, peioperative morbidity, adjuvant radiotherapy and pemetrexed-based chemotherapy.
The mean age of patients was 55 years. The median survival was 20 months, with a 3-year survival of 30 percent. Analyses showed improved survival for patients with asbestos exposure, negative lymph node involvement, and receipt of adjuvant radiation or postoperative pemetrexed-based chemotherapy.
The study was conducted by physicians from the University of Sydney, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical; Department of Medical Oncology, Sydney Cancer Center, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; and Department of Radiation Oncology, Sydney Cancer Center, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; all in Sydney, Australia.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) reported this week that the New South Wales Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that it will impose penalties against seven former directors and three executives of James Hardie Industries Limited. James Hardie is a manufacturer of Fiber Cement Siding and Backerboard. The court said the former Australian listed entity (JHIL) breached the Corporations Act in 2001 when making statements about the adequacy of asbestos compensation funding. The court also ruled James Hardie Industries NV (JHINV, based in the Netherlands) breached its continuous disclosure obligation in 2003.
James Hardie was one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of asbestos building products, and was alleged to have known the dangers of asbestos for decades.
The current proceedings came about as a result of ASIC’s investigation of matters identified by the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation. James Hardie established the foundation, which was intended to compensate families who lost loved ones to asbestos disease, in 2001. The inquiry into the MRCF was established in 2004, and the commission found that James Hardie industries deliberately underfunded the victims’ compensation fund
According to a report by Nonee Walsh of ABC News, who has been following the story since 2003, James Hardie has spent about $25 million so far fighting the ASIC’s case, while asbestos victims and their families have been simultaneously negotiating for new funding for the foundation. Payments to the new asbestos compensation foundation are currently suspended.
Walsh also noted that Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos disease in the world, including asbestos-caused lung cancer, mesothelioma. In 2003, when the sale of all asbestos products was finally banned in Australia, the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission went on record as saying there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.
The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and there is currently no known cure. Mesothelioma most often affects the lining of the chest cavity and lungs, but also may affect the lining of the abdomen or, more rarely, the heart. Asbestos exposure also causes a variety of other diseases, including asbestos, a severe scarring of the lungs.
It is estimated that the levels of asbestos disease will not peak in Australia until 2020, when it is expected that there will be 13,000 cases of mesothelioma and up to 40,000 cases of other asbestos-related lung cancer and disease.
The New South Wales Supreme Court imposed financial penalties totaling $750,000, and said the company directors and executives named in the case will be barred from serving other boards of directors for between 5 and 15 years.
According to the ASIC, the James Hardie decision underlines the responsibility of companies to assess and check the veracity of statements make to the market. ASIC Chairman Tony D’Aloisio said, “The decision is another important step in improving corporate governance in Australia and that improvement will add confidence to the integrity of our markets.”
The matter will return to the Court on August 27, at which time the Court will make orders reflecting the penalties. The defendants will then have 28 days to appeal the findings.