Australian scientists have made a breakthrough that brings a glimmer of hope to people with a deadly cancer caused by asbestos.
The cancer affects a small percentage of people exposed to asbestos, but it is relatively common in Australia with about 650 new cases a year.
There is no cure for the disease, which takes about 35 years to develop, and most people die within 18 months of diagnosis.
So far, treatment developed at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute has shown remarkable results in tests on mice with malignant mesothelioma taken from humans.
Now, institute director Professor Nico van Zandwijk and his team are preparing to test the TargomiRs treatment on humans.
First stage trials start at the end of 2013 and will determine the optimal and safe dose.
"Treatment options for this asbestos-related cancer are very limited and effective new therapies are urgently needed," Prof van Zandwijk said at the announcement of the trial in Sydney on Wednesday.