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Mesothelioma Research

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Asbestos Research – Asbestos Exposure – Mesothelioma Treatment



Reported March 8, 2010

Immunotherapy to Fight Mesothelioma?

 (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A vaccine that uses a patient's own cells may be able to fight a rare cancer and increase length of survival.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Asbestos has been banned in theU.S. for decades, but diagnosis of the cancer can take place up to 50 years after exposure.Researchers fear cases of the cancer will continue to increase until the year 2020.

Experts estimate the average length of survival once diagnosed withmesothelioma is 12 months, and chemotherapy treatment has been shown to improve the survival rate by only about three months.

Now, researchers have developed a new vaccine to use in the fight againstmesothelioma. The treatment involves exposing a patient'sdendritic cells (DC) to antigens from their tumors. In studies, the DC vaccine induced a promising T-cell response against themesothelioma tumor.

"This is the first human study on DC-based immunotherapy in patients withmesothelioma," Joachim D.Aerts, M.D, Ph.D., a pulmonary physician atErasmusMedicalCenter in theNetherlands, wrote.

"We hope that by further development of our method it will be possible to increase survival in patients withmesothelioma and eventually vaccinate persons who have been in contact with asbestos to prevent them from gettingasbestos related diseases." Dr.Aerts was quoted as saying.

SOURCE:American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, March 2010

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Mesothelioma Research – Asbestos Trades - Asbestos Related Deaths

Range health study needs more active steelworkers

Published May 11 2010

A study to find out why a high number ofIron Range residents have died from a rare lung disease has seen good cooperation from retirees but needs more activetaconite workers to accept the call.

By:John Myers,Duluth News Tribune


Joe Scholar of Virginia is a former mine employee who has lung disease. He long advocated forstudies about mesothelioma. (2009 file / News Tribune)

Fox 21 News: Mesothelioma

A study to find out why a high number ofIron Range residents have died from a rare lung disease has seen good cooperation from retirees but needs more activetaconite workers to accept the call.

University of Minnesota officials say they are halfway through testing the 1,200 taconite workers and 800 spouses they need to participate so the study reaches solid conclusions.

Former and current taconite industry workers from across the Range have been getting invitations to participate for nearly a year. So far, about

1,000 people have been tested.

“We’ve received fantastic cooperation from the retirees. But, halfway through where we need to be, we’re feeling like we need more respondents from the current work force,’’ said Diana Harvey, spokeswoman for the University’s School of Public Health.

Because the study is based on a random sample, people can’t volunteer. Harvey said it’s not clear why more active taconite workers haven’t responded to the invitations, which come in a plain white envelope from the university.

Invitations are sent to more people each month and will be sent until a full 2,000 people are tested.

Participation involves a medical office visit for a lung capacity test, chest X-ray, blood sample and medical history.

The results are confidential and are available to the person in about 30 days.

Study officials hope to finish the tests by August and have some conclusions by 2011, although it could be 2015 before a full report is available.

Mike Woods, who has worked at the Minntac taconite plant in Mountain Iron for nearly 17 years and is president of Local 1938 of the United Steelworkers of America, said he’s strongly urging anyone who gets an invitation to participate.

“This is our one shot to find to what’s going on with this problem. If we don’t get some answers now, we may never get them,” he said. “I don’t know why guys aren’t going in. … I’ve heard from some people they’re afraid the company will find out and that they’ll lose their job for cooperating. But that’s not true. The company supports this, as far as I know, and the whole thing is anonymous. Nobody knows but you and, if you want, your doctor.”

The university’s School of Public Health is leading the $4.9 million research study, funded by the state of Minnesota, to find out more about health issues of taconite workers on the Iron Range — especially lung ailments and specifically mesothelioma. The university’s Medical School, University of Minnesota Duluth and UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute also are involved in the study.

The study is a deeper look into why a higher- than-average number of Iron Range residents have developed mesothelioma, a rare and always fatal lung disease always associated with silica and asbestos exposure. At least 63 people in the area have died from the disease, many times more than would be expected from the general population.

It’s hoped the research will determine the extent to which working in the taconite industry and exposure to dust from the taconite industry affects the health of workers.

The study also will look at other ailments that may be occurring in past and present taconite workers.

The effort also is pouring over tens of thousands of death certificates of former Iron Range miners to see if there are clues to widespread or reoccurring disease. Another effort is testing air in taconite plants and other locations across the Range to see what current workers are exposed to on the job.

“We’re still in the field on that as well,’’ Harvey said Monday.

In 2003, a state study concluded the cause of the lung disease was probably asbestos from commercial sources — boilers, furnaces and pipes — and not fibers that occur naturally in taconite iron ore. But critics say the study never seriously considered taconite as the source of the problem.
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Mesothelioma Cancer – Mesothelioma Cancer –Mesothelioma Death

Mesothelioma takes life of El Dorado Man

Myron (Mike) D.Sommerfeld

El Dorado Times

Posted Feb 02, 2010 @ 10:57 AM

El Dorado,Kan.

Myron (Mike) D.Sommerfeld, 60, passed away Jan. 27, 2010 inSan Diego,Calif., after a battle withmesothelioma cancer.
The celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 20 atSwissChurch in Whitewater.

He was born Oct. 1, 1949 in Hesston, completed high school in 1967 inCassoday and worked for U.B.S. Stock Brokers for 26 years.

He leaves behind a wonderful and loving wife, Margo; mother,JustinaSommerfeld; daughter, Trish; son, Michael; brothers and wives, Winston and Jan of Newton, Gary and Carol of Longmont, Colo., and Mel and Lynn of Fordland,Mo.; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, EdwinSommerfeld, and sister, AliceThiessen.

He was baptized on confession of faith in theBurnsMennoniteChurch June 6, 1965 by Rev. Ted Roth.

Donations may be made to Pacific Heart Lung and Blood Institute,P.O. Box 24572,Los Angeles,CA90024 (for the purpose ofmesothelioma research).

Copyright 2010El Dorado Times. Some rights reserved

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Malignant Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma Research

Malignant Mesothelioma and Simian Virus 40 (SV40)

Category: Posted on: April 26, 2010 5:00 PM, by Tara C. Smith

Student guest post by Andrew Behan

Malignant Mesothelioma (MM) is a rare type of cancer which manifests itself in the thin cells lining the human body's internal organs. There are three types of MM;pleural mesothelioma,peritoneal mesothelioma, andpericardial mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, and lining of the heart, respectively (1).Pleural mesothelioma is most common, consisting of about 70% of all MM cases and has a poor prognosis; patients live a median time of 18 months after diagnosis. (Note: for the purposes of this article, MM will be used to represent pleural mesothelioma exclusively.) Despite its discovery in the mid-1800's, MM was not linked to asbestos until the late 1900's, when case reports of fast-growing lung cancers, different from previously described lung cancers, motivated investigators to uncover undisputed evidence linking asbestos to MM. Measures to reduce/eliminate asbestos from buildings reduced exposure to the cancer-causing agents found within the material, and public health officials remained confident by the year 2000 MM cases would decline in the U.S. and parts of Europe. Despite these predictions, MM cases have not declined. In fact, the incidence of MM is on the rise (1). Consequently, investigators have focused their attention on other factors to explain the steady incidence of MM in theU.S., eventually naming Simian Virus 40 (SV40) as a potential cause of MM.

You might be asking, "SV40? What's that?" SV40 is a virus originally discovered in 1960 in kidney cells of rhesus monkeys. SV40 is dormant and asymptomatic in rhesus monkeys, but was later found to cause kidney disease, sarcoma, and other cancers in animal models. Later on, it was found SV40 attacks p53 gene (a tumor suppressor) and can interrupt the cell's ability to perform apoptosis, or cell death. This makes the cells immortal, leading to tumor formation, or cancer (2). Controversy arose when the discovery of SV40 was found in the rhesus monkey kidney cells because these same cells were being utilized to form the polio vaccine. Consequently, many polio vaccines were contaminated with SV40 and when the vaccine was used to inoculate humans, SV40 was passed to humans along with the inactive form of the polio virus. It was estimated over 98 million Americans received the vaccine from 1955-1963, when a proportion of the vaccine was contaminated with SV40. Of the 98 million vaccinated during this time period, it was estimated 10-30 million of those individuals were exposed to SV40. Naturally, people who received contaminated forms of the vaccine were afraid they would develop cancer from exposure to SV40.

Since the controversy began in 1960, research has been devoted to confirming its role in cancer development in humans, as well as many animal models. As I mentioned above, presence of SV40 in animals has led to tumors and other cancers, and a few studies have found presence of SV40 in humans who have developed MM. For example, Carbone et al. found SV40 in mesothelial cells of humans who had developed MM, but not in the surrounding tissue (3). They did not find SV40 in patients who had other lung cancers, possibly reinforcing the specificity of their findings (3). Overall, 54% of MM cases were found to have SV40 infection within the mesothelial cells (3). The investigators determined more research needed to be done to see if SV40 infection alone could cause MM, or if other factors, such as immunosuppression or exposure to asbestos, were necessary for development of MM.

Other studies were not as convincing. For example, Lopez-Rios et al. reported that initially they detected SV40 in about 60% of MM specimens, and then they determined that most of the positive results were caused by plasmid PCR contamination, and that only 6% of the initially positive samples were confirmed to contain SV40 DNA (4). However, studies have shown the presence of SV40 in human specimens by using several other techniques besides PCR, including Southern blotting, immunostaining, RNA in situ hybridization, microdissection, and electron microscopy" (5).

Thus, the question remains: does SV40 cause MM, or does SV40 infection, in conjunction with asbestos exposure, generate a greater risk for the development of MM? This is a tough question to answer, because although asbestos is no longer mined in theU.S., it is still being imported; workers are still continually being exposed to asbestos. However, the use of asbestos has nearly ceased, decreasing from 813,000 metric tons in 1973, to 1700 metric tons in 2007 (6). The other problem in teasing out SV40 as a cause of MM from asbestos lies in the latency period between asbestos exposure and MM clinical diagnosis. According to the CDC, the latency period for someone who is first exposed to asbestos and clinical disease is 20-40 years. It may be, given asbestos still remains in many buildings, and exposure to it is inevitable when removal is completed, in addition to the long latency period between exposure and disease, that we have not yet come to the dramatic decrease in MM health officials have predicted. Or, is SV40 infection the culprit and the increase in incidence of MM will continue to rise? According to the SV40 Foundation, "SV40 is a problem that federal government authorities have not addressed responsibly because the government's own vaccine programs are responsible for the spread of the virus throughout the western world".(2) It is no question the public has not forgotten, even after almost 50 years, and much more research into this area is needed, to attempt to confirm SV40's causal role, if any, in the development of MM.


(1) Mesothelioma. Retrieved April 2010.

(2) "Treating SV40 Cancers." Retrieved April 2010.

(3) Carbone, M. "Simian virus 40 and human tumors: It is time to study mechanisms." Retrieved from PubMed April 2010.

(4) López-Ríos F, Illei PB, Rusch V, et al. "Evidence against a role for SV40 infection in human mesotheliomas and high risk of false-positive PCR results owing to presence of SV40 sequences in common laboratory plasmids". Lancet. 2004;364:1157-1166.

(5) Yang, Haining et al. "Mesothelioma Epidemiology, Carcinogenesis, and Pathogenesis." Retrieved from PubMed April 2010

(6) CDC. "Mesothelioma" Retrieved from PubMed April 2010.

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EIN News Launches New Mesothelioma, H1N1, Book Publishing and Environmental Publications

2009-12-13 13:21:00 (GMT) ( - News Providers News)

December 11, 2009 / EIN PRESSWIRE / Business professionals now have four new EIN News publications to choose from as the industry news-monitoring service announces the addition of these websites to the EIN News portfolio of publications.

Book Publishing Industry Today: Get all the latest news on the book publishing industry, from authors and publishing houses to Google Books and self-publishing. See the latest headlines at

Environmental News Today: Looking for a global perspective on the state of the environment? Environmental News Today delivers the latest news on pollution, carbon neutrality, the EPA, invasive species and more at

H1N1 News Today: The effects of the Swine Flu pandemic will be felt long after the current threat subsides, and H1N1 News Today covers all the angles from government response to pharmaceutical industry reaction. Continually updated information about the virus can be found at

Mesothelioma News Today: Asbestos health risks were discovered long ago, but the medical community has few answers for the deadly mesothelioma that exposure to the mineral has caused. Mesothelioma News Today searches for all the latest news on mesothelioma treatment, lawsuits, exposure and more at

EIN News monitors news in more than 80 industries and provides its members with a lengthy archive, meaning members can both effectively research topics and receive notifications about breaking news on that topic. New members to any of the EIN News publications can enjoy a no-obligation, one-week free trial.

About EIN Presswire
The EIN Presswire press release distribution service is a news-syndication solution that distributes news to more than 10 million visitors annually at EIN News and millions more through its press release distribution partners. A news source for leading journalists, decision-makers and industry professionals worldwide, EIN Presswire targets press releases to a wide array of worldwide business professionals in more than 80 different industries. EIN Presswire also offers affiliate network opportunities and news distribution to tens of thousands of news subscribers daily. Read the newest business news at and the latest world news in more than 80 different industries at

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Researchers announce "breakthrough" for asbestos mesothelioma sufferers

Victoria,Australia - December 2, 2009

A team of Australian researchers is claiming that they have made a major breakthrough in battling mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that typically has a latency period of several decades. Mesothelioma is incurable, but mesothelioma treatment methods like chemo and radiotherapy may help some patients in their fight against the mesothelioma cancer.

Specialists at the Austin Health Centre inVictoria,Australia, now say that they have developed a new radiation treatment that can provide a longer life for those battling the rare cancer. Dr. Malcolm Feigen, a radiation oncologist at the Austin Health Centre, says that by using higher doses of radiation, he is seeing great results.

"Gradually with new technologies and better equipment we've been able to increase our doses and look at the results by doing PET scans before they start the radiotherapy and PET scans after they've finished to see what difference we've made," he said. ''And we've been very impressed that in most cases there's a considerable improvement in the activity of the tumor masses that we've given high doses of radiotherapy. And most patients have got through the course of treatment with no major side effects and some have had long-term benefits."

The results from Dr. Feigen's tests are encouraging, and the CEO of the Cancer Council of Australia, Professor Ian Olver, says that he hopes the research will continue. "I think it's an important finding that radiation has a useful role along with other therapies, not so much on its own, so they've really found the niche for radiotherapy in this disease," he said.

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TheMesotheliomaVictimsCenter Expands its Unparalleled Free Mesothelioma Help, Support and Advice for AllUS Navy-Civilian Victims

TheMesotheliomaVictimsCenter is expanding the scope of its free service US Navy, or civilion mesothelioma victims, or victims, who have just received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. According to theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter,"upon receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, most families do not know what to do. There are but a handful of law firms nationally that have competency in a mesothelioma lawsuit, we will tell you who they are. We will also help the US Navy Veteran, or civilian mesothelioma victim with VA, or Social Security benefits.The new expanded services include medical treatment options, in the area of the mesothelioma victim. There is no service like this in the world." For more information mesothelioma victims, or their families can call theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter anytime at 866-714-6466, or contact the group via its web site at Http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

frequently mesothelioma victims are initially told they have pneumonia. The doctor prescribes antibiotics, & the patient does not get better. It typically takes a really sharp radiologist, to see the problem.

even worse, we fear that up to double the actual mesothelioma fatalities go unreported each year, because the mesothelioma patient never sees the doctor, the victim never gets the correct diagnosis, or the patient has no health care coverage-so they never even see a doctor.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 1, 2009 -- The Mesothelioma Victims Center is a leading national advocate for US victims of mesothelioma. After a close family member was diagnosed with mesothelioma, Americas Watchdog created theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter to be a free safety net for victims, or loved ones looking for answers after a US Navy Veteran, orUS citizen has been diagnosed with this asbestos related rare form of cancer. The group says,"we want to insure that the mesothelioma victim, or their loved ones get nothing but the best, including who are the absolute most capable law firms in theUS to handle these complex legal issues. The expanded service includes what treatment options are available for a victim in their area, and cutting through VA, or Social Security Administration red tape. We do all of this for free, because its the right thing to do, for the victim & their loved ones." For more information on how theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter can help a mesothelioma victim, or their loved ones, call 866-714-6466, or contact the group via its web site at Http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

Who Can Get Mesothelioma:

One third of allU.S. mesothelioma victims served in the U.S. Navy between 1930 & 1980.
U.S. Navy or ship yard workers who worked in the following shipyards should be tested for asbestosis: California : U.S. Naval Shipyard at Mare Island, U.S. Naval Shipyard at San Francisco, and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Naval Shipyard was also known as Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Treasure Island Naval Station Hunters Point Annex, &Long BeachCalifornia.WashingtonState had the Todd Shipyards & the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard inBremerton,WA. On the East Coast there is Norfolk & Portsmouth Naval Shipyards.

Mesothelioma cancer is a result of asbestos exposure. Individuals who worked in mines, oil refineries, ship yard workers, carpenters, plumbers, boiler room technicians construction demolition, auto brake repair professionals, HVAC technicians, and others who were exposed to asbestos can get mesothelioma.

Note: TheMesotheliomaVictimsCenter will try to help Filipino nationals who were exposed to asbestos while working at the US Naval Base inSubic Bay, and have since contracted mesothelioma.

Note: TheMesotheliomaVictimsCenter is warning US Navy veterans, or US citizens who may have been exposed to asbestos, to get annual screenings. The group says,"frequently mesothelioma victims are initially told they have pneumonia. The doctor prescribes antibiotics, & the patient does not get better. It typically takes a really sharp radiologist, to see the problem." They are saying, "even worse, we fear that up to double the actual mesothelioma fatalities go unreported each year, because the mesothelioma patient never sees the doctor, the victim never gets the correct diagnosis, or the patient has no health care coverage-so they never even see a doctor."

Why is credibility important before a mesothelioma victim or their family runs out, and attempts to find a mesothelioma lawyer?

Answer:Americas Watchdog has been featured on CNN, NPR, and in Newsweek Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping Magazine, Money Magazine and numerous other national & international publications. According to the group, "Don't think you will find your mesothelioma lawyer on the Internet or the yellow pages. Many Internet sites are little more than marketing devises from law firms, that simply want to sell a mesothelioma lawsuit to the highest bidder. In other words they do not actually do the case. We got into this to make sure a mesothelioma victim & their family gets the absolute best legal choices, and we will help a victim and their family in every other way possible."

There is no other group in theUnited States that will do more for a mesothelioma cancer victim, or their family. For more information, a mesothelioma cancer victim or their family call theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter anytime at 866-714-6466 or visit their Web site at Http://

The group also encourages healthcare professionals, physicians, nurses or social workers to tell your patients/clients about theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter. Because one third of allU.S. mesothelioma cancer victims served in the US Navy, The Mesothelioma Victims Center encourages members of the VFW, American Legion and other veteran groups to tell your friend and colleagues about this group and its free service. Interested individuals can call theMesotheliomaVictimsCenter anytime at 866-714-6466 or they can contact the group via their Web site at Http://

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Mesothelioma Researchers Find Biological Marker to Help Diagnose Malignant Mesothelioma

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Turkish researchers have recently identified a biological marker known as D2-40 to be helpful in distinguishing malignant mesothelioma from pulmonary adenocarcinomas.

Because pulmonary adenocarcinoma, malignant mesothelioma and benign mesothelioma have great resemblance to one another under a microscope, medical professionals involved in the diagnosis of mesothelioma can experience difficulty in differentiating between the three conditions. This challenge has motivated mesothelioma researchers to search for better diagnostic methods, including discovering biological markers that can easily be tested in a lab setting.

The biological marker D2-40 is an antibody produced by the immune system. It is already in use as a marker for lymphatic endothelium (a type of lymphatic tissue that lines body cavities and certain organs). Researchers have theorized that D2-40 could be particularly beneficial in diagnosing epithelial mesotheliomas from pulmonary adenocarcinomas.

There are three different “histological” types of mesothelioma, including epithelial (the most common type), biphasic and sarcomatoid. Histology is the microscopic study of cell shape, structure and pattern of formation (whether it is round, oblong and so on). A branch of histology, known as immunohistochemistry, uses chemical staining of cell samples under a microscope to identify proteins of the immune system that indicate the presence of disease.

Hence, the fields of histopathology and immunohistochemistry help diagnose malignant mesothelioma and much research is being conducted in these fields to improve diagnosis, treatment and prognosis for mesothelioma patients. In a separate study, another researcher found D2-40 to be present in 86 percent of the epithelial mesotheliomas tested, and additionally in four out of five tested biphasic mesotheliomas (which are a mix of epithelial and sarcomatoid cells). The researcher also found that D2-40 was not present in sarcomatoid mesotheliomas, further supporting the efficacy of D2-40 as a marker for epithelial mesothelioma.

In the Turkish study researchers found D2-40 to be present in 64.3 percent of epithelial mesotheliomas tested. Only one out of the seven biphasic mesotheliomas tested was positive for D2-40. Additionally, the researchers found no statistical difference in malignant mesotheliomas versus benign mesotheliomas, suggesting that D2-40 would not be a good biological marker to differentiate between malignant and benign mesothelioma.

The results were gratifying to researchers, stating, “In conclusion, strong membranous D2-40 positivity is helpful in differentiation of MM [malignant mesothelioma] from pleural involvement of pulmonary adenocarcinoma, so we suggest that it should be included in the IHC [immunohistochemical] panel used for this purpose.”

Additional information about mesothelioma may be found through theMesotheliomaCenter.

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Common Pain Relief Medication May Encourage Cancer Growth

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2009) — Although morphine has been the gold-standard treatment for postoperative and chronic cancer pain for two centuries, a growing body of evidence is showing that opiate-based painkillers can stimulate the growth and spread of cancer cells. Two new studies advance that argument and demonstrate how shielding lung cancer cells from opiates reduces cell proliferation, invasion and migration in both cell-culture and mouse models.

The reports--to be presented November 18, 2009, at "Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics," a joint meeting in Boston of the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer--highlight the mu opiate receptor, where morphine works, as a potential therapeutic target.

"If confirmed clinically, this could change how we do surgical anesthesia for our cancer patients," said Patrick A. Singleton, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and principal author of both studies. "It also suggests potential new applications for this novel class of drugs which should be explored."

The proposition that opiates influence cancer recurrence, prompted by several unrelated clinical and laboratory studies, has gradually gained support. It started with a 2002 palliative-care trial in which patients who received spinal rather than systemic pain relief survived longer. Soon after that, Singleton's colleague, anesthesiologist Jonathan Moss, noticed that several cancer patients receiving a selective opiate blocker in a compassionate-use protocol lived longer than expected. Two recent retrospective studies found that breast and prostate cancer patients who received regional rather than general anesthesia had fewer recurrences. In February, 2009, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation highlighted the issue.

Moss's palliative-care patients were taking methylnaltrexone (MNTX), developed in the 1980s for opiate-induced constipation by the lateUniversity ofChicago pharmacologist Leon Goldberg. Goldberg modified an established drug that blocks morphine so that it could no longer cross the protective barrier that surrounds the brain. So MNTX blocks morphine's peripheral side effects but does not interfere with its effect on pain, which is centered in the brain. It won FDA approval in 2008.

"These were patients with advanced cancer and a life expectancy of one to two months," Moss recalled, "yet several lived for another five or six. It made us wonder whether this was just a consequence of better GI function or could there possibly be an effect on the tumors."

So Singleton, Moss and colleagues, including Joe G.N. Garcia, MD, professor of medicine at theUniversity ofChicago, began a series of studies looking at the many peripheral effects of opiates and the potential benefits of blocking those effects.

In laboratory studies, morphine can directly boost tumor-cell proliferation and inhibit the immune response. The researchers found that opiates also promote angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, and decrease barrier function--effects that may exacerbate diseases involving vascular leakiness including acute lung injury in experimental models. In a surgical setting, decreased barrier function may make it easier for tumors to invade tissue and spread to distant sites. Increased angiogenesis helps cancers thrive in a new site.

In the studies to be presented Nov. 18, Singleton and colleagues focus on the mu opiate receptor as a regulator of tumor growth and metastasis and examine the ability of methylnaltrexone to attenuate these effects.

Using two different models of non-small cell lung cancer, the research teams showed that MNTX inhibited the tumor-promoting effects of opiates. In one study, using bronchioloalveolar carcinoma cells, MNTX blocked oncogenic signaling and prevented tumor-cell proliferation and migration.

In the other study, using Lewis lung carcinoma cells, mice without the mu opiate receptor did not develop the tumors that normal mice did when injected with cancer cells. The researchers further showed that MNTX reduced proliferation of cancer cells by 90 percent in normal mice. It also prevented invasion in cell culture and tumor growth and metastasis in mice.

The opioid receptor promotes Lewis lung cancer tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis, the authors conclude in a summary of the second study. "Methylnaltrexone attenuates these oncogenic effects."

"In conjunction with previous studies on opiate-induced angiogenesis by our laboratory and others, these experimental data suggest a plausible explanation for the epidemiologic observations," notes Moss, professor of anesthesiology and critical care at theUniversity ofChicago. "If these laboratory studies are confirmed clinically, the selection of anesthetic technique used during the operative procedure and the possible use of opiate antagonists in the perioperative period may be important."

Additional contributors to the project include Frances Lennon, PhD, Biji Mathew, PhD, and Ravi Salgia, MD, all of theUniversity ofChicago.

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Mesothelioma Research Study Seeks Mesothelioma Patients

alt text

BSN Stock Photo

A research study is currently underway to investigate the development of asbestos-related lung diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are invited to participate in the study. To learn more about the study, please send an e-mail Your e-mail must contain the following information:

· The date you were diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer

· Your date of birth

· A description of your work history. Provide a list of the jobs you held, the location of each job, the starting year and ending year of each job and your duties at each job.

Why should you participate in the study?

Mesothelioma claims thousands of lives every year in theU.S. alone. Presently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. By participating in a mesothelioma research study, you help improve the chances of finding a cure for mesothelioma. Your participation can save lives.

About mesothelioma

Mesothelioma cancer is frequently caused by exposure to the deadly mineral, asbestos. Currently, there is no treatment for mesothelioma. Generally, mesothelioma patients have a low survival rate. Studies show that about 40% of patients survive one year after the mesothelioma diagnosis and about 10% survive three years after diagnosis. Thus, mesothelioma patients tend to have a poor prognosis and a relatively short life expectancy.

The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, lower back pain, pain in the wall of the chest, persistent dry cough, loss of energy, bloating and nausea. It is important to keep in mind however, that the presence of one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has mesothelioma. People exhibiting any of these symptoms should consult a physician or other healthcare professional for advice.

About Kumar Singh

Kumar Singh researches diseases such as mesothelioma and the role that certain jobs can play in contributing to the incidence of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma patients interested in participating in this study should send an e-mail

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IdahoStateUniversity toHelpMount SinaiSchool of Medicine Assess Impacts of Asbestos Contamination inLibby,MT

Posted November 2, 2009

Mount Sinai researchers will collaborate on the research effort, to be known as the Libby Epidemiology Research Program, with Libby's Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD), investigators from theUniversity ofMontana andIdahoStateUniversity, and a national scientific advisory group.  The research will be supported by a grant of over $4.8 million from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One program, led by Jean Pfau, Idaho State University assistant professor of immunotoxicology, will compare production of blood serum antibodies among Libby residents who were exposed to asbestos only in their environment (and not at their place of employment) with antibodies seen in workers with historically long-term, heavy exposure to common commercial forms of asbestos.

Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have been found to occur more frequently in Libby than would normally be expected, and antibody levels to the body’s own tissues are found in Libby residents more frequently and at higher concentrations. It is not known whether these outcomes are specific to the Libby asbestos or common to all asbestos exposures. The study should also help determine how much asbestos exposure is necessary to cause autoimmune signs and symptoms.

“I am a sub-project principle investigator on the autoimmune project within this large grant to Mount Sinai School of Medicine,” Pfau said. “My lab will oversee that project, and will receive $290,893 over the five years of the project, beginning this fall.”

The research project will also examine the relationships between autoimmune disorders, auto-immune antibody abnormalities, and CT scan evidence of scarring lung disease in the context of exposure to Libby asbestos.  Researchers hope to discover why Libby residents seem to have advanced rates of lung scarring, as well as the mechanism for asbestos-related scar formation and approaches to preventing scar formation after exposure has already occurred.

Another of the three programs will focus on particular risks of exposure to Libby asbestos during childhood, when lungs are still developing and maturing.  This research may determine the level of environmental cleanup necessary in Libby to protect children, a particularly sensitive target population. 

The Principal Investigator of the project is Stephen Levin, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a nationally known expert in occupational medicine and asbestos-related diseases who has also served as PI of the nationwide World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, coordinated byMount Sinai since 2002.

“The asbestos-related disease in Libby is far more aggressive and rapidly progressive than what’s seen in most asbestos-exposed workers, with high rates of cancers and severe effects on respiratory function,” said Dr. Levin.  “For that reason alone, the health problems in Libby are important to study and understand."

The crisis in Libby, a mining town whose history has been shaped by vermiculite-producing corporations since the 1920s, is the result of community-wide occupational and environmental exposure to Libby's naturally occurring vermiculite, contaminated with asbestos and asbestos-like silicate fibers up to 26 percent by weight.

Health effects have been detected not just in mine and processing plant workers, area lumber mill workers and loggers (from asbestos dusting of forests) and their families, but also among other Libby residents and their children.  Many were exposed through ambient air or to mine tailings and other contaminated materials provided to the town by mining companies for the construction of ball fields, school running tracks, playgrounds, public buildings and facilities, as well as for private gardens and house and business insulation.

There is evidence that even relatively low-level exposures to Libby asbestos can cause serious scarring lung diseases, which markedly impair respiratory function, as well as asbestos-related cancers like lung cancer and mesothelioma, which occur at higher rates among the Libby population than elsewhere in theUnited States.

The health crisis potentially extends far beyond the borders of Libby, since millions of homes and businesses inNorth America have used vermiculite from Libby as attic insulation, fireproofing and soil conditioner. The ore from Libby was shipped by rail to 49 plant locations throughout North America and theCaribbean for processing, exposing many more workers and communities to the hazardous dust.

TheMount SinaiMedicalCenter encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. TheMount SinaiHospital is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852,Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers,Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants. For more information, please

 Contact:Jean C. Pfau, ISU Assistant Professor of Immunotoxicology, (208) 282-3914 or; or Mount Sinai Newsroom, (212) 241-9200

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Study To Examine Possible Genetic Predisposition To Mesothelioma

Friday, October 16, 2009

Medical researchers inNorth Carolina have announced a new study to investigate the possibility of a genetic predisposition to the development of mesothelioma. The Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, NC and FirstHealth Carolinas, has undertaken research to better understand why only some individuals exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma.

Dr. Jill Ohar ofWakeForestUniversity, the study’s principal investigator, has spent more than 20 years studying mesothelioma. Her previous work includes research into understanding why some people and families appear more susceptible to developing the disease and whether such susceptibility could be inherited.

“Over years of research, we have determined that there is a strong tendency for mesothelioma to run in families and it tends to be associated with a family history of cancer, which suggests a genetic susceptibility,” Ohar said in a prepared statement about the current study released by FirstHealth Carolinas.

Compared to other groups who were exposed to asbestos, Ohar’s previous research has found that individuals who developed mesothelioma shared certain traits, such as an increased risk of cancer among relatives, according to an article on the research in the March 2007 issue of the medical journal Respiratory Medicine.

Similarly, the current study examines associated environmental factors and genetic markers of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma to determine the particular genetic factors that make some families more susceptible than others to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.

Chris Miller, director of clinical trials atFirstHealthMooreRegionalHospital, said the current study presented an exciting opportunity to increase understanding about the causes of mesothelioma.

“The FirstHealth Clinical Trials staff is excited about this opportunity to assist one of our state’s medical research institutions further the knowledge about this deadly disease and the factors that cause it,” Miller said.

FirstHealth of theCarolinas is a private, non-governmental, not-for-profit health care network serving 15 counties in the mid-Carolinas.

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Mesothelioma Patient Participation Requested forNorth Carolina Study

 Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:06am

FirstWatch of theCarolinas is partnering with Wake Forest School of Medicine to conduct a research study on the progression of asbestos-related cancers and lung diseases, including the rare cancer mesothelioma.

According to FirstWatch, a non-profit health care network, the study “examines the associated environmental factors and genetic markers of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, basically identifying how frequently encountered environmental pollutants affect the body and determining the genetic factors that make some families more susceptible than others to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.”

Mesothelioma patients are encouraged to contact FirstHealth Clinical Trials to participate in the study.

“The FirstHealth Clinical Trials staff is excited about this opportunity to assist one of our state’s medical research institutions further the knowledge about this deadly disease and the factors that cause it,” said Chris Miller, Director of Clinical Trials atFirstHealthMooreRegionalHospital. “Working together is part of our mission at FirstHealth, and this opportunity is a perfect example of trying to fulfill that mission.”

The principal investigator of the study, Dr. Jill Ohar, has been studying mesothelioma and the causes of the cancer for more than 20 years.

“Families have been devastated by this disease,” said Dr. Ohar, “but what is surprising is that despite the strong association of asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, only a small number of people exposed to asbestos actually develop mesothelioma.”

“Over years of research, we have determined that there is a strong tendency for mesothelioma to run in families and it tends to be associated with a family history of cancer, which suggests a genetic susceptibility,” Dr. Ohar explained.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer typically linked to asbestos exposure. The cancer develops when asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested into the body where they can become lodged in organs, causing inflammation or infection. Overtime, scars and tumors can develop, resulting in decreased lung function and difficulty breathing for many patients.

Unfortunately decades often pass between the initial exposure to asbestos and the demonstration of symptoms of mesothelioma, allowing the cancer to progress to later developmental stages. Though a cure does not exist, many patients elect to undergo mesothelioma treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation to combat the cancer.

Additional information about mesothelioma may be found though theMesotheliomaCenter.

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FirstHealth partners with Wake on study



PINEHURST – The FirstHealth of the Carolinas Clinical Trials Department has partnered with the Wake Forest School of Medicine to promote participation in a research study investigating the development and progression of asbestos-related lung diseases and cancers. 

“The FirstHealth Clinical Trials staff is excited about this opportunity to assist one of our state’s medical research institutions further the knowledge about this deadly disease and the factors that cause it,” says Chris Miller, director of clinical trials atFirstHealthMooreRegionalHospital. “Working together is part of our mission at FirstHealth, and this opportunity is a perfect example of trying to fulfill that mission.”

Asbestos fibers were commonly used in construction before 1975, and asbestos exposure occurred in asbestos mining and milling industries, construction, fireproofing and other industries. In families of asbestos workers, exposure can also occur from particles brought home on the worker’s clothing.   

Asbestos-related lung disease can take several forms, including asbestosis and pleural plaque (two forms of lung scarring), lung cancer and mesothelioma. Lung scarring is progressive in about one-third of asbestos-exposed workers. Lung cancer is five times more common in asbestos-exposed individuals and 100 times more common in smoking, asbestos-exposed individuals than it is in the non-smoking, non-asbestos-exposed population.

The severity of the disease depends on how long the person was exposed to asbestos and the amount that was inhaled. Often, symptoms and lung fibrosis do not occur and are not noticed for 20 years or more after the exposure.

Dr. Jill Ohar ofWakeForestUniversity, the study’s principal investigator, has been researching the disease and the factors that cause it for more than 20 years. “Families have been devastated by this disease, but what is surprising is that despite the strong association of asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, only a small number of people exposed to asbestos actually develop mesothelioma,” she says. “Over years of research, we have determined that there is a strong tendency for mesothelioma to run in families and it tends to be associated with a family history of cancer, which suggests a genetic susceptibility.”

There is no way to predict if an individual diagnosed with asbestosis will actually develop mesothelioma, a rare cancer found in the lining of the lungs or abdomen.  About 40 percent of patients are surviving one year after diagnosis while only about 10 percent are surviving at three years after diagnosis.

The current study examines the associated environmental factors and genetic markers of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, basically identifying how frequently encountered environmental pollutants affect the body and determining the genetic factors that make some families more susceptible than others to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.


The mesothelioma study requires the collection of one ounce of blood from the participant and completion of a two-page survey, both to be conducted atFirstHealthMooreRegionalHospital’sChestCenter of theCarolinas. If you (or a friend or a family member) have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in participating or have questions, please call FirstHealth Clinical Trials at (910) 715-2200 or the principal investigator, Dr. Jill Ohar, at (866) 487-2344 or (336) 716-8426.

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Mesothelioma Claims Life of British Space Agency Chief

 Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:00am

The former chief of the British National Space Centre passed away due to mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Though Dr. Derrick Gould passed away June 22, 2009, an examination that took place several months following his death confirmed that the cause of his death was mesothelioma, which he likely developed due to exposure to asbestos that Dr. Gould experienced during his work as a longshoreman at a shipyard.

Dr. Marek Witkowski, consultant pathologist atFurnessGeneralHospital, noted that the examination revealed Dr. Gould had advanced mesothelioma that had spread throughout his body. Ian Smith, a coroner involved in the inquest, attributed Dr. Gould’s mesothelioma development to his time working as a longshoreman, stating, “Of some interest is that he worked as a holiday job at the shipyard for three months. I have no doubt that in the course of that he would have been exposed to asbestos.”

“I am far more than 50 percent satisfied that the cause of death is industrial disease,” Smith added. Mesothelioma patients often take decades to demonstrate symptoms of the cancer following initial exposure to asbestos.

Many patients develop the illness following asbestos exposure on the job, as many industries utilized the mineral prior to the 1980s for its innate resistance to heat and fire. Though a cure does not currently exist, mesothelioma treatment may be available to help patients combat the cancer.

Dr. Gould worked his way up to his position as the chief of the British National Space Centre, beginning his career developing rocket fuels and motors, before moving onto small satellites and eventually overseeing space projects.

Dr. Gould was born in 1936 and passed away at the age of 73.

Additional information about mesothelioma may be found through theMesotheliomaCenter.

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Eightfold Increase in Mesothelioma Research Funding Applications

Posted on October 2nd, 2009


by Deon Scott in All News


Read 548 times.

Data that was recently released by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has indicated that between the year 2000 and this year there has been an eightfold increase in the number of applications for funding for malignant mesothelioma research. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the main independent source for funding in this sector.

Officials from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation have said that in 2000 there were only seven applications looking for consideration for mesothelioma research funding. However, in 2009 this had shot up to fifty six applications for funding.

The foundation was set up as a result of the lack of support and funding that was in place for research into the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. So far the foundation has awarded around six million dollars in funding so that further research can be carried out into treatment for this cancer.

An official from the foundation said: “Through nearly a decade of leading the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, I am continuously inspired by the strength and compassion of the mesothelioma community. This community, despite grave challenges, does not give up hope or commitment to a cure. Volunteers and donors like Erica and hundreds of others, who despite their own deep personal losses and struggles, remain committed to a better future for all mesothelioma patients and families, will help us find new treatments and, one day, a cure.”

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New discovery shows how cancer spreads

6 July 2009

Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. A Finnish-led research group has discovered a mechanism that lung cancer cells use when spreading around the body to form metastases.

The joint research group of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and theUniversity ofTurku in cooperation with theUniversity ofHeidelberg, have also found a factor controlling the spreading of several different cancer types. The common feature in both findings is that they explain the lethal ability of cancer cells to 'start running' and spread from the original tumour to other parts of the body.

Cancer is lethal because of its ability to spread into the body to form metastases. Previously, it was thought that spreading cancer cells lose the factors that bind them to other cells of the tumour, and this enables the cells to detach and migrate within the body.

Videos made by the research group’s PhD student Saara Tuomi on migrating lung cancer cells revealed to the group that the cells move using their adhesion receptors in a manner that was previously unknown.

The new finding of the research group reveals that cancer cells are able to change in such a manner that a factor that previously assisted them in staying in place starts to assist the cells’ adhesion receptors and is thus the precondition needed by the cells to migrate.

The group found evidence suggesting that the tumours of lung cancer patients who died because of metastases had cells that started moving using this previously unknown mechanism.

The finding opens new opportunities for the development of medicine because the migration mechanism is not vital for normal cells.

The research group led by Professor Johanna Ivaska found, in cooperation with researchers of theUniversity ofHeidelberg, a new factor that controls the appearance of cancer cell adhesion receptors in several cancer types.

The new protein has been named SCAI, which means a cancer invasion inhibitor. The research shows that many cancers are able to eliminate the suppressing factor. This result is the cancer adding the number of its adhesion receptors on the surface of the cells and starting effective spreading.

Thus, the fact that the suppressing factor is eliminated makes it possible for the cancer to spread. The research results were published in May 2009 in top scientific journal Nature Cell Biology.

When combined, these findings increase the understanding of how cancer spreads and may influence future trends in cancer research.


1. Tuomi S, Mai A, Nevo J, Öhman TJ, Gahmberg CG, Parker PJ and Ivaska J. PKC regulation of an 5 integrin-ZO-1 complex controls lamellae formation in migrating cancer cells.Science Signaling,30 June 2009.

Brandt DT, Baarlink C, Kitzing TM, Kremmer E, Ivaska J, Nollau P, Grosse R. SCAI acts as a suppressor of cancer cell invasion through the transcriptional control of 1-integrin.Nat Cell Biol. 2009 May; 11(5): 557-68.

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Risk of Mesothelioma and occupational exposure to asbestos and man-made vitreous fibers: evidence from two case-control studies inMontreal,Canada.


OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of exposure to occupational asbestos and man-made vitreous fibers (MMVF) across a wide range of occupations on risk of mesothelioma. METHODOLOGY: Two population-based case-control studies (1979-1986 and 1996-2001) provided 35 histologically confirmed mesothelioma cases and 1965 controls. A detailed job history was obtained to evaluate occupational exposure to many agents, including asbestos and MMVF. RESULTS: The mesothelioma odds ratio for exposure to any asbestos type was 3.7 (95% confidence interval = 1.7 to 7.8). The subset exposed to amphibole fibers experienced an odds ratio = 7.0 (95% confidence interval = 2.7 to 18.5). Effects of MMVF could not be disentangled from those of asbestos. DISCUSSION: In workers with exposure levels lower than in most historical cohort studies and across a wide range of industries, a strong association was found between asbestos, especially when it was amphibole, and mesothelioma.


Risk of mesothelioma and occupational exposure to asbestos and man-made vitreous fibers: evidence from two case-control studies inMontreal,Canada.
Pintos J -J Occup Environ Med - 01-OCT-2009; 51(10): 1177-84
MEDLINE® is the source for the citation and abstract of this record

NLM Citation ID:
19749604 (PubMed ID)

Full Source Title:
Journal of occupational and environmental medicine /AmericanCollege of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Publication Type:
Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Author Affiliation:
INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Unit of Epidemiology and Biostatistics,Laval,Quebec,Canada.

Pintos J; Parent ME; Case BW; Rousseau MC; Siemiatycki J

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Scientists Delve into the Connection Between Asbestos Fibers and Cancer 

Category: Cancer News Saturday, December 20, 2008



For the first time, researchers fromOhio state university have embarked on a study to understand how asbestos fibres can cause cancer. 

The researchers believe that their work may aid in drug development efforts, aimed towards finding potential cures for illnesses caused by excessive exposure to asbestos, including the deadly cancer called mesothelioma. 

With a view to observing how a single asbestos fibre binds with a specific receptor protein on cell surfaces, the research team uses atomic force microscopy. 

Study's co-author Eric Taylor, a doctoral candidate in earth sciences at Ohio State, described atomic force microscopy as "Braille on a molecular level", which allows the team to feel what was happening on molecular surfaces. 

"We're looking at what molecules are involved in the chain of events when the fibre touches the cell. Does the binding occur over minutes, or hours? And what processes are triggered?" said Taylor, who presented the research at the American Geophysical Union meeting inSan Francisco. 

So far, the study has been focused to blue asbestos (Crocidolite), a part of the amphibole group of asbestos minerals that were used in such products as ceiling tiles and thermal insulation, before being banned in most of the Western world by the mid-Eighties. 

However, the researchers eventually hope to study how all six forms of asbestos interact with certain proteins on cell surfaces. 

According to them, some forms of asbestos can dissolve in the lungs if they are inhaled, but others are believed to essentially "stick" to cells, especially at high concentrations, and eventually cause lung diseases.

"For the first time, this will give us data on biological activity that should help policymakers determine which forms of asbestos are the most dangerous," said Steven Lower, associate professor of earth sciences atOhioState and a co-author on the study. 

"The hypothesis we're testing is that binding of cell surface receptors to asbestos fibers triggers a signal event, which initiates the cancer. 

"There seems to be something intrinsic about certain types of asbestos, blue asbestos in particular, that elicits a unique signal, and it triggers inflammation, the formation of pre-malignant cells and, ultimately, cancer," added Lower, also a faculty member in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. 

The researchers have revealed that the first protein to be studied is epidermal growth factor receptor, which is present on the surface of every human cell. 

Lower said that understanding the intricacies of the binding process between the mineral and one or more proteins might provide an index of the biological activity of a particular type of asbestos, and lead the researchers to figure out how to prevent or undo that interaction. 

Taylor said that the driving motivation behind the research was the potential to find a way to intervene and prevent illness even after someone was exposed to asbestos.

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University ofMinnesota scientists tackle disease that hitsIronRange hard

Researchers will try to find out why so many miners have been struck down by Mesothelioma.

By LARRY OAKES, Star Tribune

Last update: December 19, 2008 - 10:02 PM

MOUNTAIN IRON, MINN. -University ofMinnesota scientists have settled on research methods and begun collecting data they'll need to try to determine whyIronRange miners die from mesothelioma at higher rates than others and whether they are at greater risk for other health problems.

TheSchool ofPublic Health's plans, recently approved by an independent scientific review board, include examining the work, health and death records of 68,000 miners, many of them long deceased. The work also will include health assessments on 1,200 current and retired workers, plus 800 of their spouses, researchers said at a briefing Thursday evening forIronRange residents.

Coordinators said they've struck confidentiality agreements with several mining companies to obtain work history data that they'll use to search for correlations between exposure to taconite dust and a range of health problems, including mesothelioma and other cancers. And they've begun sampling dust and ore from the mines for analysis.

Also, scientists from the university's Natural Resources Research Institute say they've begun installing dust collectors in sevenIronRange communities. The devices capture mineral fibers so that they can be cataloged and compared to those captured outside theIronRange.

The five-year, $4.9 million study, funded by the Legislature in April, will be "the best effort to this point to get to the bottom of this," said John Finnegan Jr., dean of the school and a coordinator of the Minnesota Taconite Workers Lung Health Partnership.

A 2003 state Health Department study found that 17 miners developed mesothelioma between 1988 and 1996 and that commercial asbestos was likely the cause. Critics said the researchers didn't look hard enough at taconite dust, some fibers of which are very similar to asbestos.

In 2006, the department discovered 35 new mesothelioma cases in a cancer-tracking registry but didn't announce them for a year, a controversial decision that led to the resignation of Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach.IronRange legislators then demanded the current study. In the meantime, six more cases have been discovered, bringing the number of deaths to 58 since 1988, the year the registry was created.

Dr. Ian Greaves, an expert on lung diseases at the university and a member of the study team, said an important goal is to determine what levels of exposure might be dangerous and to develop recommendations for reducing it. He said researchers in April will begin contacting miners picked for health assessments. In addition, experts are advisingIronRange doctors on the best screening and treatment methods.

"I think we're going to actually find something out this time around," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.

David Walkki of Mountain Iron was a welder in the mines for 18 years before developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, though he never smoked. He said he was encouraged by the team's assurances that it will go beyond mesothelioma and look for links to a variety of lung ailments.

"I'm already on the deck of the Titanic," said Walkki, 55. "But if they figure this out, they'll protect the workers of the future."

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