Industrial Liaison Office

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Asbestos analysis

Asbestos is a low cost material that possesses exceptional physical properties and has therefore been widely used in construction, water delivery, transport systems and various other applications.
Its threat arises from its fibrous structure of easily inhaled microscopic needles, which can settle in the bronchial tubes and the alveoli of the lungs.
It is well known that these microscopic fibres can cause extensive fibrous scars that may reduce the elasticity of pulmonary tissue and therefore the efficiency of oxygen absorption.
It is also clear that asbestos is strongly implicated in the development of various forms of cancer, such as pleural and peritoneum mesothelioma.


Elettra's contribution
Studies have been carried out at Elettra into "asbestos bodies", the term used to describe the various structures that form in the lungs as a result of interaction between asbestos fibres and certain proteins in the tissues. Molecular biology methodologies have led to identification of the proteins involved in this process and the reasons for the harm caused by asbestos bodies.


Facility: Structural Biology Laboratory
A procedure for the isolation of asbestos bodies from lung tissue by exploiting their magnetic properties: A new approach to asbestos body study; V. Borelli, C. Brochetta, M. Melato, C. Rizzardi, M. Polentarutti, C. Busatto, F. Vita, R. Abbate, R. Gotter, G. Zabucchi. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 70 (14); p 1232; 2007.