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Swiss Study Identifies Mechanism Behind Asbestos’ Role in Mesothelioma

Though it has long been established that malignant mesothelioma is a result of exposure to asbestos, scientists have struggled to explain exactly how the carcinogenic material triggers the growth of cancer cells. Now an in-depth scientific study has been conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and it has revealed the exact mechanism that the fiber creates within the body’s cells. According to the team’s researchers, the damage that is done by asbestos follows an immune reaction to the inflammation.

According to the study’s leader, Emanuela Felley-Bosco, mesothelioma begins following contact between the long, pointed fibers of asbestos and the cells of the mesothelium. The body is unable to expel the fibers via the lymphatic system, and the fibers cause micro injuries to the tissue. This triggers an immune reaction in which white blood cells rush to the site of the injury to begin tissue repair. Unfortunately, the cells proliferate too much and form tumors, and at the same time the cells’ RNA mutates. This is how the cancer grows out of control.

The mesothelioma researchers’ conclusions are backed up by previously-known information about the disease: specifically, that mesothelioma patients with shorter survival times have large amounts of the enzyme that causes these RNA mutations in their cells. Knowing this can help researchers address the disease from an immune-response perspective, and may further the identification of an effective treatment protocol. According to Felley-Bosco, “Previously cancer caused by asbestos was a black box. A therapy against immune system inhibitors is a promising approach.”  She points out that mesothelioma immunotherapy research is ongoing at five Swiss hospitals, as well as ten other hospitals across Europe. This study was a collaboration between University Hospitals of Zurich, Geneva and Toronto, Canada, as well as the University of Fribourg and ETH Zurich.

The more that researchers understand about mesothelioma, the better the chances that they will someday find an effective treatment, or maybe even prevent the asbestos-related disease from taking hold. If you would like to speak with somebody who can provide you with more helpful information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at  1-800-692-8608.

 

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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