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Precision Medicine Treatment: Gene-Targeting Mesothelioma

Precision Medicine Treatment: Gene-Targeting MesotheliomaA new precision medicine treatment for mesothelioma comes from scientists in Italy.

This form of mesothelioma occurs after asbestos exposure in people with a genetic mutation. The mutation is represented by patients with an inherited cancer syndrome. These patients typically have an even worse prognosis than other mesothelioma patients.

But the Italian team came up with a way to target the mutated gene. This form of treatment is called precision medicine. Precision medicine treatment looks at the genetics of a patient to select a treatment that will work best for them.

Discovery of a DNA Gene Mutation

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Malignant mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive kinds of cancer. It starts on the membranes around organs and can quickly spread to other parts of the body.

There is limited efficacy of available treatments for mesothelioma patients. By the time most people notice symptoms, mesothelioma may already be widespread. Researchers are evaluating new therapeutic approaches. A precision medicine treatment shows promise.

One new approach may be to target an inherited cancer syndrome caused by a hereditary DNA repair gene. Approximately, 10% of mesothelioma patients have this specific DNA gene mutation. Scientists think that individuals with this mutation may inherit a mesothelioma susceptibility.

Aggressive Form of Mesothelioma Responds to Precision Medicine

A new precision medicine treatment comes from the University of Eastern Piedmont. It appears in a recent issue of the European Journal of Cancer. Scientists are searching for new biasing genes that are associated with mesothelioma.

One gene associated with mesothelioma is the BAP1-tumour predisposition syndrome. Individuals exposed to asbestos with this gene have a greater risk of contracting mesothelioma.

Dr. Irma Dianzani and her team used next-generation DNA sequencing from 113 patients with mesothelioma. Over 7% of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients in this study tested positive for the BAP1-tumour gene.

Patients with the cancer-predisposing gene shared a lower asbestos exposure. Those without the gene had significantly higher asbestos exposure.

These data support the idea that patients with the BAP1-tumour gene have a higher risk of mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Moreover, they support the biological impact of the identified tumor gene.

Mesothelioma Patients with this Gene Mutation may Benefit from Precision Medicine

Genetics is a major focus for mesothelioma researchers around the world. Genes can help doctors better understand individual cancer cases and how best to treat them.

It is well known that asbestos fibers induce DNA damage in human cells. Individuals with cancer mutations in their DNA repair genes are less able to heal after asbestos exposure.

New data on asbestos exposure show that patients with a cancer-predisposing gene seem more susceptible to mesothelioma. This discovery may be exploited for the development of tailored precision medicine treatment.

Patients with mesothelioma and the BAP1-tumour gene may benefit from precision medicine.


Sculco, M., La Vecchia, M., Aspesi, A., Pinton, G., Clavenna, M. G., Casalone, E., … & Dianzani, I. (2022). Malignant pleural mesothelioma: Germline variants in DNA repair genes may steer tailored treatment. European Journal of Cancer163, 44-54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.12.023

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