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expert reaction to study on carbon nanotubes and mesothelioma in mice

New research published in Current Biology looks at carbon nanotubes and mesothelioma in mice.


Prof. Willie Hamilton, Professor of Primary Care Diagnostics, University of Exeter Medical School, said:

“This paper gives us more insight about how mesothelioma begins, but it should not be a cause for concern for people who are concerned about their cancer risk, as nobody has nanotubes inserted into their chests as was done to mice in this study. It’s worth highlighting that typically carbon nanotubes are not something humans are particularly exposed to as they’re not something we eat or are given as a medical treatment.

“The key point about using carbon nanotubes in this study is that they are much the same size and shape as asbestos fibres. One of the main questions around mesothelioma development after asbestos exposure is ‘what is asbestos doing to provoke cancer?’- it may be the chemical make-up of the asbestos, or it may be the fibre size and shape is just perfect to provoke the development of cancer in the pleural membrane.

“This team have studied that second possibility; and carbon nanotubes seemed to provoke something like mesothelioma. This raises the possibility that it is the precise size and shape of asbestos fibres that is the problem, rather than their chemical makeup.”


* ‘Long-Fiber Carbon Nanotubes Replicate Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma with Disruption of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Cdkn2a (Ink4a/Arf)’ by Chernova et al. published in Current Biology on Monday 6 November.


Declared interests

Prof. Willie Hamilton: No conflicts of interest.

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