Gene Study Uncovers ‘spectrum of mutations’ in Mesothelioma

According to medicalnewstoday.com, a new study identifies previously unknown genetic alterations behind mesothelioma. The findings include some mutations that may serve as new target for treatment and others that could help improve the diagnosis, screening and prediction of outcomes for patients.

In a paper published in Nature Genetics, the team – from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, and Genentech in San Francisco, CA – reports how they carried out a comprehensive genomic analysis of over 200 mesothelioma tumors. Because there were so many samples to analyze, they were able to identify a “spectrum of mutations”. Some of the mutations they uncovered have been found in other cancers, and drugs that target them are already developed.

Lead author Dr. Raphael Bueno, chief of BWH’s Division of Thoracic Surgery and co-director of the hospital’s Lung Cancer added, “No one knew before now that these mutations might also be found in mesothelioma tumors. This new work suggests that patients with such mutations may benefit from certain existing drugs.”

Knowledge about some of the other mutations could also help pathologists improve the accuracy of mesothelioma diagnosis and predict which patients will have poor or better outcomes. Based on these findings, the researchers see genotyping patients – where the precise genetic alterations that underlie their cancer are identified – as an important next step.

Dr. Bueno concludes with: “Even for a mutation that happens 1-2% of the time, it could mean the difference between life and death for a patient. We plan to continue this important research through investigator-sponsored trials evaluating the potential use of cancer immunotherapies for the treatment of mesothelioma.”

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