Though it has been well established for decades that asbestos is the cause of malignant mesothelioma, the way that the condition actually takes hold within the body has remained a mystery. Scientists around the world have dedicated extraordinary amounts of time to working out this puzzle, as determining how the rare and deadly form of cancer forms is a vital step in future prevention, treatment, and a possible cure. Researchers have been particularly interested in how the tumors form in the mesothelial cells, which are a significant distance from the organs and cells that first come into contact with asbestos particles, and now a group of researchers from the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine believe that they have found the key to the process.
In a mesothelioma study published online in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, Arti Shukla, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine reveals, “Our findings suggest that cells in one region of the body are capable of sending messages to cells in a distant location, and can cause significant genetic changes. This communication from injured or diseased cells to healthy cells has the potential to initiate changes that might lead to cancer or other diseases.”
Shukla and his researchers were able to replicate conditions that induce mesothelioma cells to grow by first exposing lung epithelial cells and macrophages to asbestos fibers and allowing them to grow for three days. They then collected and examined the exosomes generated by the lung cells and found that they had increased levels of specific proteins, which they then added to healthy mesothelial cells. Four days later they found that there had been significant changes in the genes of the mesothelial cells that were consistent with the formation of cancer. Understanding that cancer signals originate in the proteins generated by exosomes of exposed lung tissue cells means that those proteins can be used as biomarkers for the earlier detection of mesothelioma, potentially holding the promise of a cure.
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos as a result of another’s negligence, then you need information, guidance and support. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn how we can help.