An American cancer-research body has announced that scientists can apply for funding from the government-affiliated Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP).
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) said in a statement that researchers will be able to ask for funds from a $15m pot administered by the US Department of Defense (DoD).
This is the 5th successive year permission for mesothelioma research funding has been granted by the federal government, despite the overall austerity measures prevailing in the US.
"With the looming threat of sequestration, we are gratified to see the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program funded and available to mesothelioma researchers," said MARF's director Mary Hesdorffer, a clinician with more than 16 years' experience in treating mesothelioma. "We desperately need better treatments for this horrific disease."
Ms Hesdorffer observed that there is presently just 1 "marginally-effective" mesothelioma treatment – a drug called Alimta – approved by the US Food & Drug Administration.
The US government has put some $8.8m into mesothelioma research since 2008, while MARF has independently funded around $8.2m. The organisation is hopeful that a truly effective treatment, and in due course a cure, are now within reach.
In July 2012 Ms Hesdorffer reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee of the established link between mesothelioma and US military service. Ex-servicemen are considered at great risk of developing the usually fatal disease, which is caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
Before 1980, asbestos was used extensively on military bases and US Navy ships. Around 33% of all annual American mesothelioma cases are among ex-Navy personnel.
Emma Costin of Simpson Millar comments "The incidence of mesothelioma diagnosis remains high particularly in the UK, US and Australia and the annual death toll is continuing to rise year on year. This is a legacy of the widespread use of asbestos and asbestos products in the industrialised world, and in common with the US there is a disproportionately high incidence of mesothelioma and other asbestos illness among military personnel and civilians who have worked on military sites. There is no cure for the disease which is often not diagnosed until the final stages of the illness. Victims of asbestos and their representatives in the UK strongly welcome this news of further investment from the US Department of Defence and it is certain that the global community with an interest in fighting this dreadful disease will monitor the results closely".