Navigation Links
Scientists study how asbestos fibers trigger cancer in human cells
Date:12/18/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State University scientists believe they are the first in the world to study the molecular underpinnings of cancer by probing individual bonds between an asbestos fiber and human cells.

Though any clinical application is years away, the researchers hope their findings could aid in drug development efforts targeting illnesses caused by excessive exposure to asbestos, including the deadly cancer called mesothelioma.

The researchers use atomic force microscopy to observe how a single asbestos fiber binds with a specific receptor protein on cell surfaces. They suspect that at least one of the more lethal forms of asbestos triggers a cascade of events inside cells that eventually lead to illness, sometimes decades later.

The conditions most commonly associated with long-term exposure to airborne asbestos are lung cancer; asbestosis, a chronic respiratory disease; and mesothelioma, a cancer that forms in the membrane lining most internal organs of the body, including the lungs.

Eric Taylor, a doctoral candidate in earth sciences at Ohio State and a coauthor of the study, describes atomic force microscopy as "Braille on a molecular level," meaning it allows scientists to feel and observe what's happening on molecular surfaces.

"We're looking at what molecules are involved in the chain of events when the fiber 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 in San Francisco.

Asbestos comprises six different minerals that naturally occur in both fragment and fibrous forms. Because of its high durability and heat resistance, the fibrous form has been used in many manufacturing products since the late 1800s. Though its use is now highly regulated, asbestos is still present in many materials. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 1.3 million employees face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Environmental exposure is also possible because asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in soils and exposed bedrock.

Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, is part of the amphibole group of asbestos minerals, which were banned in most of the Western world by the mid-1980s. Before that, they were used in such products as ceiling tiles and thermal insulation.

Ohio State researchers have focused so far on the crocidolite form of asbestos, but eventually hope to study how all six forms of asbestos interact with certain proteins on cell surfaces. 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 at Ohio State and a coauthor 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," said Lower, also a faculty member in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. "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."

The first protein to be studied is epidermal growth factor receptor, which is present on the surface of every human cell. Understanding the intricacies of the binding process between the mineral and one or more proteins will provide an index of the biological activity of a particular type of asbestos, and might lead the researchers to figure out how to prevent or undo that interaction, Lower said.

Taylor said the driving motivation behind the research is the potential to find a way to intervene and prevent illness even after someone is exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma symptoms don't typically appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure. After diagnosis, however, the cancer is difficult to control, and there is no cure.


'/>"/>

Contact: Eric Taylor
taylor.1317@osu.edu
614-247-8247
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UK scientists working to help cut ID theft
2. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes
3. Comet probes reveal evidence of origin of life, scientists claim
4. Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
5. Male elephants get photo IDs from scientists
6. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
7. Muscle mass: Scientists identify novel mode of transcriptional regulation during myogenesis
8. Carnegie Mellon scientists develop nanogels that enable controlled delivery of carbohydrate drugs
9. Clemson scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
10. Scientists tackle mystery mountain illness
11. T. rex quicker than Becks, say scientists
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science ... a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the ... the first application of deep learning to create predictive ... lines and a growing suite of powerful tools. The ... and future publicly available resources created and shared by ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... YORK , April 4, 2017   EyeLock ... today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark ... patent broadly covers the linking of an iris image ... same transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th ... latest patent is very timely given the multi-modal biometric ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... KONG , March 30, 2017 The ... a system for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking ... into a new realm of speed and accuracy for use in ... at an affordable cost. ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... gene in its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of ... small RNA guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... a leading provider of patient support solutions, has announced the ... which will launch this week. The VMS CNEs will address ... enhance the patient care experience by delivering peer-to-peer education programs ... to help women who have been diagnosed and are being ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Tampa Bay, Florida (PRWEB) , ... October 11, ... ... Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its ... antibody (sdAb) for the treatment of osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of ... Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was ... Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., ...
Breaking Biology Technology: