Fibrosis and Telomeres

Scientists continue to find links between genetics, molecular conditions and diseases relevant to asbestos disease litigation. In this instance, it’s idiopathic fibrosis, but one of course wonders about all forms of fibrosis and “toxins.” Here, the researchers conclude that damage to telomeres leads to idiopathic fibrosis. One wonders then about a next step of testing to see the interactions between fibrotic toxins and the impacts in persons with genetic or epigenetic variables related to related to telomeres …

Set out below is the introduction from the July 2, 2015 ScienceDaily summary taken from a press release:

“Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) causes a gradual loss of respiratory capacity and can be lethal within a few years. The cause is unknown, although it can be attributed to a combination of genetics and the environment. A team of researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have now discovered that telomeres, the structures that protect the chromosomes, are at the origin of pulmonary fibrosis. This is the first time that telomere damage has been identified as a cause of the disease. This finding opens up new avenues for the development of therapies to treat a disease for which there is currently no treatment.


This work, carried out by Juan M. Povedano and Paula Martínez from the Telomeres and Telomerase Group at CNIO led by Maria A. Blasco, with the participation of researchers from the CNIO Molecular Imaging Core Unit and from the Complutense University of Madrid, is being published this week in the journal Cell Reports.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a respiratory disease — affecting about 8,000 people in Spain — in which scars are formed in lung tissue that make it rigid, leading to breathing difficulties. In the absence of a single and determinant cause, researchers compile clues that piece together different parts of the problem. One is that the exposure to environmental hazards, such as radiation, smoking or pollution, greatly increases the risk.”

Juan M. Povedano, Paula Martinez, Juana M. Flores, Francisca Mulero, Maria A. Blasco. Mice with pulmonary fibrosis driven by telomere dysfunction. Cell Reports, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.06.028

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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