June 22 2023

ADDRI Newsletter June 2023

Our patients’ well-being and welfare fuel our team’s research work every day. They are relentless in seeking improved diagnosis and treatment options for people suffering from asbestos and dust-related diseases – patients like Trevor Seaman, diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2021, who’s story you’ll read below.

As we approach the end of a very busy 6 months and the end of the financial year, please help us in our mission to enhance the quality of life, and ultimately, the survival of our patients. Your generous donation can make a significant impact. Thank you for your continued support.

Meet Trevor Seaman

In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, Trevor Seaman worked as an apprentice electrician in his hometown of Wagga Wagga. He then spent the next 35 years travelling the world working on various oil rigs and mines. In 2020, Trevor and his wife Shirley returned home to Australia, planning to retire and work on the farm they had purchased in country Victoria, near the Albury-Wodonga border.

Feeling increasingly breathless, but not overly concerned, Trevor decided to seek medical advice and after numerous appointments and tests, Trevor received a call that would change his life. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. When his wife Shirley asked him what that was, he simply replied it’s “a death sentence.”

Trevor and Shirley were left utterly shocked and desperately searching for answers. Jocelyn, from our ADDRI Support Service, became aware of Trevor’s situation and reached out to him, promptly connecting the couple with the Dust Diseases Board. She introduced them to a surgeon based in Sydney who could assist in making decisions regarding radical treatment, and guided them through the intricate medical system.

In late 2021, Trevor underwent radical surgery in Melbourne and Jocelyn remained in constant contact with him, helping to manage the challenging side effects of the intricate procedure and the subsequent recovery. She also connected Trevor with a medical team in Sydney who provided invaluable expert advice for ongoing decision-making. Jocelyn and the team emphasised the importance of maintaining a positive mindset, engaging in pulmonary rehabilitation in their local area, and provided support throughout the recovery process. Crucially, they walked alongside Trevor and Shirley, offering guidance and encouragement as they worked towards regaining an active lifestyle.

It will continue to be a difficult journey ahead, but as Trevor says “without the Mesothelioma Support Service, I wouldn’t have known which way to go. Jocelyn’s sage advice and experience was essential in helping us to make informed decisions. She provided a wonderful listening ear, and the connection with her has been important emotionally and mentally – she made us feel we were not alone, even when things looked bleak. The support was truly lifesaving.”

We were thrilled to have Trevor and Shirley come visit us at ADDRI in early June. They are so passionate about the crucial impact of the ADDRI Support Service and our research work – and have generously donated $10,000 to support Dr Peter Shi’s continuing research.

We will be sharing more of Trevor’s story in a very special podcast series we will be releasing in the next few months, so more news on that in an upcoming newsletter.

ADDRI Team Updates

ADDRI farewells Jocelyn McLean, the Founder of our Mesothelioma Support Program

After dedicating her life to patient care and almost a decade of her life to ADDRI, our exceptional Mesothelioma Support Coordinator, Jocelyn McLean, is embarking on a well-deserved retirement journey. As we bid her farewell, we reflect on Jocelyn’s remarkable career and her unwavering commitment to providing care for mesothelioma patients.

Introducing our Principal Scientist, Dr Elham Hosseini Beheshti

Elham Beheshti

We are very excited to introduce Dr Elham Beheshti as our new Principal Scientist. With a strong academic background and extensive experience as an Extracellular Vesicles Scientist, Elham brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Her passion for knowledge led her to pursue a PhD in Experimental Medicine, where she made ground-breaking discoveries regarding the role of exosomes in cancer.

Elham’s passion is collaborating with researchers and other leaders from diverse fields to develop innovative approaches in understanding and combatting dust-related diseases and cancers.
With a Master of Science in health, nutrition, and food chemistry from the University of British Columbia, as well as a Bachelor of Engineering from Iran, she brings a diverse skill set to her leadership role. In 2023, Elham was awarded the prestigious Redi Fellowship and in this capacity serves as an Investment Analyst at IP Group Australia where she gains insights into the commercialisation of medical research. This knowledge enables her to bridge the gap between research and real-world impact, expediting the journey from laboratory bench to patient bedside. In 2024 she assumes her role at ADDRI full time, however her positive impact has already been felt with our team.

With thanks to our supporters

Scoring goals for research

Each goal scored by the Western Sydney Wanderers this season raised $500 for ADDRI. Following an incredibly successful season, we were presented with a generous cheque of $21,500 by the Wanderers’ sponsor, Turner Freeman Lawyers. This tremendous support will be utilised to further bolster the ADDRI Development Program that supports the ground-breaking work of our Postdoctoral Researchers in advancing the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos and dust-related diseases.

We were delighted to welcome the team to ADDRI for a special cheque presentation event. Thank you to Armando Gardiman, Richard Dababneh and Fady Dous from Turner Freeman Laywers and Scott Hudson, CEO of the WSW’s. We very much appreciate the collective effort to support our cause.

Biaggio Signorelli Foundation Cheque Presentation at Government House

The support of our Patron, the Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable David John Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Hurley is such an important element to our Institute. He is a source of great wisdom and a wonderful advocate of our work, having been responsible for ridding the Australian Defence Force of asbestos.

On Thursday 15 June, His Excellency and Mrs Hurley hosted a delightful afternoon tea at Government House with our committed supporters the Signorelli family, who presented ADDRI with a cheque for $100,000. The Signorelli Foundation has been a steadfast champion of our mission since ADDRI was established in 2009 and we are so grateful for their incredible partnership.

International Collaboration

Clinical training to improve diagnosis of asbestos related disease in South-East Asia

international symposium and workshop
As you read this newsletter, a team from ADDRI will be at Binawan University, Jakarta Indonesia, delivering crucial clinical training supported by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.

Currently there are only a handful of countries across South-East Asia and the Pacific region that have imposed national bans on the import of raw asbestos, as well as the production and use of asbestos-containing materials. As a result, this ongoing use of asbestos in the region will pose a substantial burden of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma.
As the WHO Collaborating Centre for Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases, ADDRI is committed to equipping and training healthcare sectors across the region to ensure accurate diagnosis of asbestos related diseases and adequate treatment for patients.

Education is a critical part of the solution and we are very proud to work alongside global experts to deliver the pilot training program on the “Principles of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Related Disease” this month.

International Collaboration at iMig

Our pioneering research work has been recognised at the upcoming 16th International Conference of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig) taking place in Lille, France 26 – 28 June.
Both our Postdoctoral Researchers, Dr Ben Johnson and Dr Huaikai (Peter) Shi, have been invited to present their ground-breaking research during the conference.

Dr Ben Johnson will share his research, funded by AstraZeneca, on “Investigating the potential utility of a WEE1 inhibitor for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma.” This work aims to facilitate the rapid screening of novel immunotherapy drug combinations with significant anti-tumour activity. Implementation of these findings in a clinical setting, could provide mesothelioma patients with additional treatment options that have the potential to significantly enhance their survival and quality of life.

Dr Peter Shi will present his work on Phase 1 of a Clinical Trial titled “Leptospermum extract (QV0) suppresses pleural mesothelioma tumour growth in vitro and in vivo through mitochondrial dysfunction-associated apoptosis.” This work investigates the potential of an extract derived from the Manuka Leaf, to serve as a natural treatment option for malignant mesothelioma, a currently incurable cancer.

ADDRI will be well represented at the conference with our CEO Kim Brislane and Manager International Projects Shane McArdle attending international meetings to advance partnerships and projects, including the development of the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Non-Malignant Asbestos Related Diseases.

Congratulations to our team who have been awarded travel grants to attend:

  • Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Ben Johnson, awarded a Cancer Institute of NSW Travel Grant
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Peter Shi, supported by the ADDRI Development Program funded by Turner Freeman Lawyers
  • Mesothelioma Support Coordinator POam Logan, supported by a special travel grant thanks to Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

The team look forward to this exciting opportunity to connect, collaborate and further research into mesothelioma diagnosis, treatment and care.


Mesothelioma eLearning Module – available on the Lung Learning Hub

There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the launch of our specialist Mesothelioma Learning Module last month. The first of its kind, this rapid eLearning resource has resonated deeply with users who have praised its clarity, user-friendly interface, and its ability to address a critical gap in nurses’ education.

We are very happy to announce the Module is Lung Learning Quality-Assured and available on the Lung Learning Hub. This is a collaboration between leading respiratory organisations Lung Foundation Australia, the The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) and Asthma Australia.

The module is now being translated to other languages, the first being Bahasa Indonesian in preparation for our training in Jakarta this month.

Kate Butler, Nurse Education and Resourcing Project Officer continues to conduct on-site training programs with nurses and allied health professionals in Sydney and regional areas. If you are interested in training, or would like further information you can contact Kate via Email or Phone 02 9767 9855.

Our events

Meso March 2023

It was an honour to walk alongside our mesothelioma patients and their families, as well as our wonderful supporters on Sunday, 7 May during our Meso March. With big smiles and great spirit, we braved the rain and marched to raise awareness of mesothelioma and its impact on patients and carers. A great team effort raising over $2,600! Thank you to all who participated and donated – your support is invaluable.

2023 City2Surf – join the ADDRI team!

On Sunday 13 August, Sydney will again come together to walk/run/stroll the famous 14km City2Surf course from the CBD to Bondi Beach and we invite you to join our ADDRI team!

Every step you take and dollar you raise will help us support patients and families impacted by asbestos and dust diseases. Asbestos/dust diseases are unfortunately a generational issue – the devastating impacts affect whole families. Together, we need to raise awareness of the risks that asbestos and dust diseases (such as silicosis) still have on our community.

Did You Know?

Some 800 Australians die from the aggressive cancer mesothelioma each year. There is currently no cure.

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