Genetic Alterations Discovered in Mesothelioma Tumors

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and scientists from Genentech have conducted a genomic analysis of more than 200 mesothelioma tumors. They have discovered genetic alterations that may ultimately help physicians to treat mesothelioma and to improve methods for diagnosing the disease and assessing patients’ likely outcomes. Their research was recently published in Nature Genetics.

The only confirmed cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Only 5 to 10 percent of all mesothelioma patients survive five years from the date of diagnosis.

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Genentech Work Together to Find Effective Immunotherapy Treatments Based on New Understanding of Mesothelioma Genetics

Doctors working in the International Mesothelioma Program at BWH have spent the last 25 years treating mesothelioma patients, working to understand the disease and striving to find an effective treatment. Because the BWH physicians had the opportunity to study so many different mesothelioma tumors, they were able to uncover a number of genetic mutations. A few of the mutations also exist in other types of cancers. It is hoped that some of the drugs that have been effective in targeting those mutations will also be effective in fighting mesothelioma. Until the mesothelioma researchers completed the study, scientists were unaware that the mutations existed in mesothelioma tumors.

Working with researchers from Genentech, BWH investigators compared RNA and DNA from normal and cancerous tissues. From the 2,500 alterations they found, the scientists identified 10 important genetic mutations. These mutations gave the scientists hope that certain targeted therapies might work for some mesothelioma patients.

In addition, the researchers focused on immune cells present at the tumor site. These immune cells may help pathologists diagnose the disease and assist physicians in predicting the likely progress of a patient’s illness. The researchers also discovered that one subtype of mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma, might be treated with some success with immunotherapy.

BWH researchers say that the next step will be to genotype mesothelioma patients treated in the clinic. Genotyping allows doctors to discover genetic differences at precise points in the genome. BWH scientists reportedly intend to continue their investigation with investigator-sponsored trials focused on using immunotherapy to treat mesothelioma.

Contact Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel to Learn More About Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

If you (or a loved one) have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help you seek compensation. Contact us by email or call us at 800.226.9880 to speak with our mesothelioma lawyers, like Scott Kruka and Walker Humphrey in our Dallas office, to learn more about how we can assist you and your family with a mesothelioma lawsuit.

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