The Intersection Among Torts, Science, Corporate Law, Insurance & Bankruptcy

iMig Day 2 – More Molecular Information, and Some Hope

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Science

Day 2 of iMig 2014 is on October 22,  and is not your father’s mesothelioma science conference. In the past, there was little positive to say about medicine and mesothelioma. Today, however, positives are appearing, more and more often, albeit with a long way to go.

Day 2 continues the focus on molecular topics. Michele Carbone and Bruce Robinson each present twice, with Dr. Robinson focused on immunotherapy for mesothelioma, and Dr. Carbone focused on molecular genetics and the BAP1 mutation. Also, there are multiple presentations related to microRNA and mesothelioma, and multiple presentations regarding various, operating biobanks for mesotheliomas. Also notable are the following two presentations:

21.2 S Maki-Nevala 1045

Exome Sequencing Reveals Novel Recurrent Mutations in Asbestos-Exposed Lung Adenocarcinoma and Malignant Mesothelioma

23.8 S Burgers 1215

Occasional Exposure to Asbestos: What is the Risk?


An Implicit Message for the Toxic Tort Litigation Industry News – Tripled Profits for Illumina, the World’s Leader in Gene Sequencing Devices

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Science

Need more proof that the future of toxic torts will involve molecular issues? Consider that the impact of gene sequencing shows up in multiple places, including hospitals and on Wall Street. Illumina is one of two companies leading production of computerized systems for gene sequencing, and is the clear leader. Business is so good that Illumina  just announced tripled profits, and blew well past analyst expectations. Last spring, the MIT Technology Review named Illumina the “smartest company in the world.”


iMig Kicks Off in South Africa – NexGen Sequencing of Mesos Leads Off

Posted in Asbestos, Science

The biennial meeting of iMig is underway as mesothelioma researchers gather in South Africa for four days of discussion of research on mesothelioma. Day 1 is Tuesday the 21st, and kicks off with four plenary sessions. The first three focus on molecular and genomic factors in mesothelioma. One talk is by the University of Chicago’s Dr. Ravi Salgia. The fourth is a presentation by Laurie Kazan- Allen, who heads up IBAS. Her brother is Steve Kazan.

Those talks are followed by a presentation on a worldwide look at mesothelioma by Julian Peto, a world class epidemiologist in London with a long-time focus on mesothelioma, among other things. The four plenary sessions are further detailed below:

“10.1 C Alifrangis 0815
Next Generation Sequencing:
Genome-Directed Precision
Medicine in Mesothelioma

10.2 R Salgia 0840
Mesothelioma–From Chaos to
Mitochondrial Functionality: What
the Fractal?

10.3 R Weinberg 0905
iMig Special Keynote Lecture:
Cancer Stem Cells as Target

10.4 L Kazan-Allen 0935 The Global Asbestos Landscape – Past, Present and Future

“Devil In the Dust” – Australia’s Old Wunderlich Factory for Asbestos Cement Products

Posted in Asbestos

“Devil in the Dust” is the title for an online, multimedia story about disease in persons who lived, played and worked in the vicinity of Australia’s old Wunderlich asbestos cement factory in the Melbourne area. The online story presentation from Australia’s  Herald Sun is notable for both its substance and its form. The interactive graphics are both powerful and useful. Investigative journalism continues its resurgence, but, as here, lacking adequate science and context.

“Naturally Occurring Asbestos Near Populated Areas of Southern Nevada”

Posted in Asbestos

An October 18, 2014 press release highlights and links to a new paper on geologic findings regarding naturally occurring asbestos in Nevada. The topic has been the subject of some prior popular press articles,but now the full abstract has been released and the paper has been presented.

The release is pasted below.


Asbestos Likely More Widespread Than Previously Thought

Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.

(PRWEB) October 18, 2014

Asbestos Likely More Widespread Than Previously Thought
Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.
“These minerals were found where one wouldn’t expect or think to look,” said Rodney Metcalf, associate professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-researcher of the study. The naturally occurring asbestos was found in Boulder City, Nevada, in the path of a construction zone to build a multi-million dollar highway called the Boulder City Bypass, the first stage of an I-11 corridor planned between Las Vegas and Arizona.
Asbestos is a family of fibrous minerals which are known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious respiratory related illnesses when the fibers are inhaled. The GSA presentation will focus on the discovery of types of asbestos that geologists call fibrous iron sodium amphiboles and fibrous actinolite in Clark County, Nevada, and the geological settings that caused the unusual asbestos formation, said Metcalf.
“[Asbestos] is like a precious metal deposit, it forms at the confluence of several geologic features, which vary at each location,” said Metcalf.
In this case, it was a geological confluence of groundwater interacting with rock salt and a cooling magma body deep below earth’s surface to form the fibers and create this type of asbestos, said Brenda Buck, a professor of geology at UNLV and co-researcher of the study.
Later the rock was brought to the surface where it now exposed to rain and wind that can disperse it. This is the first discovery of asbestos in this kind of geological setting and it suggests the minerals could occur in other similar settings around the globe, said Buck, who has a background in medical geology.
Many regulations have been created to protect people from exposure to mined and refined asbestos, like fibrous actinolite, which the scientists discovered. But some naturally occurring asbestos is not regulated or labeled toxic under federal law, though they can be just as dangerous or even more toxic to humans, said Buck.
Naturally occurring asbestos can also be harmful and difficult to control, especially when it becomes dust and can be transported on the wind.
The research is being performed while the construction for a Boulder City bypass has been delayed due to concerns about the hazard of the naturally occurring asbestos. Boulder City has about 15,000 residents, and is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, home to over 1.9 million people.
Scientists are still researching the amount of asbestos that is in the soil in the construction area, its toxicity to humans, and how far it can be transported by wind.
The new research Metcalf will be presenting could help scientists locate more formations of naturally occurring asbestos in areas that were not previously considered, he said.
“This means that there could be a lot of areas in the world that could have asbestos that we don’t know about. So there are people that are being exposed that have no idea,” said Buck.

Rodney V. Metcalf, Department of Geoscience, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada
Brenda J. Buck., Geoscience, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday, 19 October 2014, 8:25 a.m.
Vancouver Convention Centre-West 202/203

“Some Fear Ebola Outbreak Could Make Nation Turn to Science”

Posted in Humor, Science

It’s Friday, so please indulge some cutting humor from Andy Borowitz. His humor is online at the New Yorker.

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—There is a deep-seated fear among some Americans that an Ebola outbreak could make the country turn to science.

In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.
“It’s a very human reaction,” said Harland Dorrinson, a prominent anti-science activist from Springfield, Missouri. “If you put them under enough stress, perfectly rational people will panic and start believing in science.”

Additionally, he worries about a “slippery slope” situation, “in which a belief in science leads to a belief in math, which in turn fosters a dangerous dependence on facts.”

At the end of the day, though, Dorrinson hopes that such a doomsday scenario will not come to pass. “Time and time again through history, Americans have been exposed to science and refused to accept it,” he said. “I pray that this time will be no different.”

More Great Progress on Triggering the Immune System to See and Destroy Cancer Cells

Posted in Cancer, Science

Happy Friday, with really good news for kids with a form of leukemia. A new press release and an October 16, 2014 article in Fierce Biotech report on a new study of a new treatment that achieved 90% COMPLETE remissions in children with ALL – a vicious form of leukemia. This study is a fine example of how molecular researchers are doing great things as they figure out how to get the immune system to “see” blood and other cancers. That’s a big step because many cancers cells give off a “don’t eat me” signal that in effect causes the immune system to ignore the cancer cells. But once the new treatments gets the immune system to “see” the cancer cells, the immune system often can and will wipe out the cancer cells.

The doctors also are learning how to cope with a side effect. The side effect problem is that massive destruction of the cancer cells causes the cells to release cytokines (proteins involved in signaling). The massive, sudden release of all the cytokines can cause a “cytokine storm” that leads to extreme and potentially fatal fevers as the immune system goes into overdrive. But the doctors also are learning how to head off or treat the storms. Good news all the way around.

It’s a shame our nation invests trillions of  dollars in war and homeland security instead of the fundamental research needed to tame awful diseases such as the many diseases we call cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Awful diseases are the real terrorists for tens of millions of Americans.