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A recent study conducted by an international team of pathologists has reportedly identified a new protein which is often found in the tumor cells of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of lung cancer which commonly affects the thin lining of tissue surrounding the lungs. With the discovery, researchers hope that doctors can make a more accurate prognosis for their patients and craft more effective and targeted treatment options to help these individuals live longer, more comfortable lives.

Published in The Journal of Pathology, the study found that the presence of protein CD70 correlates with a worse prognosis in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma through immune evasion and enhanced invasiveness. The study was led by researchers at Aichi Medical University School of Medicine in Nagakute, Japan, with contributions from doctors based in the U.S., Poland, and Germany.

In the paper, the authors determined that about 20% of the mesothelioma tumor cells examined showed high levels of the CD70 protein, which resulted in a median survival of only six and a half months compared to a survival rate of a year and a half for patients without the over expression of the protein. Researchers believe these findings may explain the significant differences in survival periods between patients with the disease. The same protein has been studied in other serious forms of cancer, including certain types of kidney cancers and brain cancers.

A group of Wisconsin prison inmates recently filed a lawsuit over allegations the plaintiffs are suffering asbestos exposure almost daily due to the facility and state’s negligent management of the institution. According to the federal asbestos lawsuit, 10 inmates at the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution say the prison is exposing inmates and workers to dangerous levels of black mold, asbestos, and lead-contaminated water.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, the asbestos lawsuit claims the prisoner-plaintiffs suffered continuous exposure to asbestos and asbestos-related materials such as lead, lead filings, radium, and rust particles in the prison’s water supply. The lawsuit further claims that the plaintiffs suffered arbitrary denial of access to sanitary cleaning supplies to prevent the spread of disease and bacteria.

The suit seeks about $5 million in damages, as well as an emergency investigation and testing of all buildings at the prison, and evacuation of all inmates and staff from the facility. The latter demand for emergency transfers to minimum-security correctional facilities comes in the form of a preliminary injunction and restraining order filed by the inmates. It is unclear if the group has outside legal counsel in the asbestos cancer lawsuit.

The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform recently held a hearing examining health risks related to the use of talcum powder products containing asbestos, as well as the detection methods used to keep the public safe. The hearing comes on the heels of news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced had detected asbestos in one lot of pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and that the company would voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the product.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 15,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs claiming their serious medical conditions, including various forms of cancer, were caused by decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Many of those lawsuits allege the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked with exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers.

While talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can often be found side by side one another, creating the possibility of cross contamination if precautions are not taken to protect innocent consumers. Despite federal laws requiring talc products to be asbestos-free, strong evidence exists that Johnson & Johnson continued to produce talc-based products that tested positive for asbestos.

When patients are diagnosed with a debilitating disease such as cancer, their focus often immediately shifts towards whether or not they will require surgery to treat the disease and what, if any, are the least invasive and most effective treatment options. Some forms of cancer can be treated without surgery, using radiation or chemotherapy, if caught in the early stages, while others leave patients with limited treatment options that may leave surgery as the only course of action.

A recent European study compared surgical treatments in patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer affecting the thin lining of tissue surrounding the lungs. The researchers compared data of two types of treatments performed from 1999 through 2018, pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) to see if patients fared better with one treatment over the other in terms of survival.

Mesothelioma has a particularly long latency period, which is the time between exposure to a carcinogen and when a diagnosis is actually made. The disease’s latency period can be anywhere from 20 years to 50 years, which can leave patients with especially limited treatment options and make surgery the only treatment available to prolong the individual’s lifespan.

A federal judge in San Francisco recently allowed a lawsuit to continue against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging the agency fails to properly track how much deadly asbestos is imported, manufactured, and otherwise used in products in the United States. Several advocacy groups filed the asbestos lawsuit against the EPA in February 2019, challenging the agencies decision to allow certain exemptions to reporting rules for asbestos products, and the agency’s decision to deny a petition to impose stricter reporting requirements on companies dealing in asbestos.

“EPA has greatly overstated its knowledge of asbestos use and exposure in the United States,” the advocacy groups, now plaintiffs, wrote in a letter to the EPA back in January 2019 in which they urged the agency to reconsider its decision. “This decision gives us the green light to press ahead with our suit to hold EPA accountable for refusing to require simple and straightforward reporting by the asbestos industry,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, one of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against the EPA.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the American Public Health Association, the Center for Environmental Health, the Environmental Working Group, the Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. A spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group released a statement saying “EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s efforts to keep the public in the dark about where and how asbestos is being used in this country is antithetical to what the American people should expect from the head of the EPA.”

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