Asbestos, Mesothelioma and Cancer
Source: Science Daily
Scientists from Ohio State University have announced exciting results from a study they were conducting on the manner in which asbestos fibers interact with human cells and, possibly, cause mesothelioma. For the first time in the history of asbestos science, the scientists have identified a particular mechanism by which crocidolite fibers bind to the cell surface of human cells. The scientists are hopeful that an understanding of the molecular biology of fiber and cell interaction will lead to the development of more effective treatments for pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as asbestos-induced lung cancer.
The findings are still quite preliminary and the scientists caution that any therapeutic development is years ago, but these results are still important as an identification of part of the carcinogenic pathway that leads from asbestos exposure to malignant mesothelioma. Some asbestos fibers are thought to dissolve when exposure occurs, but most do not break down over time, so the identification of the binding mechanism can focus scientists on the particular signaling cascade that occurs after the fiber binds to the cell. An understanding of this cascade could possibly let scientists develop treatments to arrest the growth of the mesothelioma, or possibly, give scientists a target to develop therapies that will prevent mesothelioma’s development in the first place.
The scientists were only studying the crocidolite asbestos, which is also known as blue asbestos, but they hope to expand their study to include the give other common forms of the mineral. Crocidolite is considered among the most carcinogenic forms of asbestos.