SCIENTISTS have safely tested a potential vaccine they hope can beat a deadly cancer linked to asbestos.

The development has been described as the most significant breakthrough in the battle against Clydeside's death dust ticking timebomb.

Research leader Dr Joachim Aerts said: "We hope it will be possible to increase survival in patients with mesothelioma and to eventually vaccinate people who have been in contact with asbestos." The news has been greeted with enthusiasm in Clydebank where thousands of workers were exposed to asbestos in places such as John Brown's shipyard and Turner & Newalls Dalmuir asbestos factory.

The town is the worst affected area in the UK for mesothelioma deaths.

The cancer is extremely difficult to treat and often proves fatal in a very short time-scale.

Bob Dickie, of Clydebank Asbestos Group, which has more than 1,400 members, said: "If this becomes a reality, it would be a tremendous step forward in the treatment of mesothelioma. If these experiments prove to be successful then it would be wonderful for people who suffer from this terrible disease." Ten patients with advanced mesothelioma were given the new treatment - being called a vaccine - and all showed signs of recovery.