48 Genes Identified that Predict Mesothelioma Survival

Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and many treatment options revolve around surgery, radiation, or therapy. But could targeted treatment and precision oncology provide better patient outcomes? According to Mesothelioma.net, researchers are currently attempting to develop precision treatment using genetics. Through the study, researchers identified 48 genes in patients with mesothelioma that help predict overall survival rates. Additionally, these genes may be used in the future for more targeted immunotherapy.

The Research

Altogether, the research was performed by members of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a subset of the National Institute of Health (NIH). To begin, researchers sourced data from 122 mesothelioma patients. All patients previously received treatment for their cancers. Through this data, researchers also received insight into the genomic, phenotypic, and transcriptomic tumor data, as well as patient survival rates.

Approximately 50% of patients whose data was used had malignant pleural mesothelioma, by far the most common form. The additional 50% of patients had peritoneal mesothelioma.

After evaluating the data, researchers discovered 48 genes which predict overall survival. In particular, when found expressed in tumors, these genes are associated with worse survival. Because many of the genes are associated with DNA repair, researchers believe that the tumors are able to self-repair, creating treatment resistance. For example, CCNB1 was found to be highly expressed. As a result, researchers now believe that these genes could be used to develop targeted therapies.

Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is a form of cancer which affects the mesothelium, or the thin tissue which lines the lung, abdomen, and chest wall. In patients with pleural mesothelioma, tissue surrounding the lungs is most affected. Alternately, the peritoneal or pericardial form affects tissues in the abdomen, around the testicles, and around the heart. In many cases, asbestos exposure is a huge risk factor for mesothelioma. Many patients previously worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos or lived with someone who has worked with or near asbestos. But it can take up to 20-50+ years following exposure to develop this cancer. For this reason, many patients receive a diagnosis in their 60s. Mesothelioma affects males much more than females. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is associated with poor patient outcomes. Following diagnosis, the average life expectancy is between 12-31 months. This highlights the urgent need to develop new therapeutic options designed to improve patient outcomes and quality of life (QOL). Symptoms include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Chest or rib pain
  • Fever and/or night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Pain which worsens while coughing
  • Abdominal pain, lumps, or swelling
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen and/or lungs
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
    • Note: While anemia can occur in both males and females, it more often occurs in females in regards to this cancer.

Learn more about mesothelioma here.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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