Last month, authors from Montana State University, in conjunction with the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) in Libby, published a manuscript in the peer reviewed journal Inhalation Toxicology titled, "Autoimmune Markers for Progression of Libby Amphibole Lamellar Pleural Thickening."
According to lead author, Jean Pfau, PhD, "We have long suspected that the immune system could drive progression of Libby's devastating pleural disease, based on clinical observations and studies in mice. This paper finally establishes that autoantibodies, including ANA (antinuclear antibodies) are not only associated with the most severe form of the disease, but will also be useful as tools for screening at-risk patients. This will lead to a) the ability to tailor treatments for individual patients based on autoantibody testing, and b) new ideas for early detection and treatment. The paper is dedicated to the patients and community members who have supported research efforts over the years."
Dr. Pfau's research has led to the addition of ANA testing as part of the CARD Clinic's CDC grant for Early Detection of Certain Medical Conditions Related to Environmental Health Hazards.
When detected early, many treatments are available for autoimmune diseases that can lead to improved quality of life and health outcomes. Furthermore, early detection of these antibodies may lead to improved management of asbestos related diseases.
Exposure to Libby Asbestiform Amphibole (LAA) occurred in Libby from about 1920 to 1990 because of vermiculite mining and processing operations.
Community wide asbestos exposure was realized in 1999 and the town, along with neighboring town Troy, have been EPA Superfund sites since. EPA finished clean-up activities in 2019, but ongoing screening for asbestos related health effects and lung cancer continue at the CARD Clinic.
CARD Clinic's mission is to provide advocacy, care, resources and hope to the community, and all those across the nation impacted by Libby amphibole asbestos and asbestos related diseases.
For more about the newly published paper, click here.
To learn more about the Libby CARD Clinic, call (406) 293-9274 or visit libbyasbestos.org.