The Hill has an article today on Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy still trying to get Senate passage of a bill to replace the asbestos-litigation system with a $140 billion trust fund. Specter is quoted as saying this is the last chance for this bill, and there are significant obstacles to passage, including opposition from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Paul Gleason was a character actor, most well known today for his part in the cult firm The Breakfast Club. He died of mesothelioma on Saturday. He joins Steve McQueen as actors who have died of this disease.
Gleason played minor league baseball before becoming an actor. He was 67.
There is a new page over at the always excellent Mayo Clinic website about angiogenesis inhibitors and their possible use as cancer therapy. There was considerable excitement about angiogenesis inhibitors back in the late 1990s. This excitement faded somewhat when early tests did not produce the kind of miracle results people were hoping for. But there is still research going on in this area, and the antiangiogenesis drug Avastin has been in use for a couple years now.
The Mayo Clinic site says:
Researchers hope a better understanding of the angiogenesis process will help them target treatments to different cancers. One day a treatment could be devised for you based on the growth factors your cancer uses to cause angiogenesis. A specific combination of angiogenesis inhibitors, possibly combined with chemotherapy, could be used to stop your cancer from growing.
Very interesting stuff.
Anyone who follows the asbestos tragedy is surely aware of the Libby, Montana situation. This mining town has experienced an epidemic of asbestos disease due to a vermiculite mine that W.R. Grace & Co operated there until 1990. The Libby residents have been battling for some redress and the Social Security Administration just announced that victims could qualify for diasbility benefits. The claimants must document they have an impairment that appears in Social Security’s “listings” to qualify.
Stunning article (opinion piece) out of The Herald (Scotland). Writer Joan McAlpine lays out the case for mesothelioma patients: the fact that asbestos companies knew of the hazards and continued to produce this hazardous material.
“Mesothelioma sufferers already know what is killing them: exposure to asbestos dust. So they know who is to blame: irresponsible employers. The direct link between the insulating material and disease was established in 1960, according to the British Lung Foundation. Yet asbestos remained popular in the UK for two more decades. Its use increased considerably between 1960 and 1975. Workmen bored holes in it, lagged pipes with it and lined walls with it. Later, they demolished buildings full of the stuff, breathing in clouds of deadly dust in the process.”
Some controversey in the UK and a little tension between the medical establishments in Scotland and England. The Scottish Medicines Consortium approved alimta for mesothelioma treatment last year, but now the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, based in England, is saying the drug is too expensive. According to this article, “It is the first time a ruling by NICE has been at odds with a decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium and campaigners are calling on health officials north of the border to stand by their decision.”
Activists in Scotland are upset.
The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) is holding a conference this weekend. One thing they are talking about is the legacy of the Baryulgil asbestos mine which operated between 1944 and 1976. There are all sorts of health problems in the area even today. Story here.
A few days ago we mentioned the SS Norway wandering the seas in search of a place to be dismantled. Asbestos and other hazards on board are scaring potential host countries. Now we see out of France, a naval ship in a similar situation. The aircraft carrier Clemenceau pulled into the port at Brest after failing to find a country willing to accept it for dismantling. The hull has asbestos in it and India rejected the ship for that reason.
A few years ago a Spanish company bought the rights to the hull and promised it would be broken in a European Union country. The company then decided to take the ship to Turkey, which at the time was not part of the EU and had lower environmental standards, so the French government cancelled the deal. They then attempted to send the Clemenceau to India but Egypt at first denied access through the Suez canal. The European Commission and India’s High Court both got into the situation. The result is that the ship is not going to India and nobody knows what to do with it now.
A shining example of the legacy of asbestos use and the impacts of that use on today’s world.
There is an article in the journal Respiratory Medicine about mesothelioma tumors extending along the area where the doctors insert instruments for diagnosis and treatment. These researchers were able to prevent the metastases by applying targeted radiotherapy with no catheter damage. Encouraing news.
This story from The Age notes that government official Richard Marles refers Australia having the most sufferers of mesothelioma per capita in the world. ” “In many respects Australia is lagging behind other parts of the world and we need to lift our game,” Mr Marles said.”