Researchers are discovering that certain genes can contribute to contracting mesothelioma, and other cancers as well. In addition, genes can play a role in how well the body responds to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
In a 2011 study that included research at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, researchers discovered that people who carry the BAP1 gene are more susceptible to developing mesothelioma. Although many people are exposed to asbestos, and this is known as the primary cause of mesothelioma, researchers are finding that some genes contribute to the development of mesothelioma more than others.
Medical researchers looked at families and found that every family member who contracted mesothelioma also carried the BAP1 mutation. Researchers also looked at twenty-six people who contracted mesothelioma, but did not have mesothelioma in the family. Out of that group, twenty-five percent carried the BAP1 gene.
Other studies have found that seventy percent of mesothelioma is linked to the BAP1 gene. This gene is also linked to about ninety percent of eye melanomas.
Another study of an entire family, who worked in a family business where the primary material in the business contained asbestos, revealed further information. In that study, members of the family contracted mesothelioma along with other types of cancer. In that family, they found that the gene RBM15 was the common factor among many of the family members.
This study and others suggest that multiple genetic markers could be linked to the chain of cancers in a family.
Genetic studies can tell us about what sort of genes could contribute to the likelihood of contracting certain cancers. This information can be used in concert with other factors, such as environmental exposure to asbestos, or other potential cancer-causing materials.
When a specific gene is linked with the development of a certain type of cancer, then cancer screening can begin earlier for the patient. Treatment for mesothelioma is more successful when it is caught earlier.
Researchers also believe there may be ways to change genetic mutations before cancer develops. For example, by stabilizing calcium channels in patients, doctors may be able to prevent mesothelioma in patients who have inherited certain genetic mutations associated with the disease.
Additionally, treatments for mesothelioma, once it has developed, could be targeted toward enzymes which would increase function of the BAP1 gene after it has lost function.
Research has also revealed that although BAP1 mutations may increase a patient’s chance of contracting mesothelioma, it also may help improve chances of long-term survival, and therefore more aggressive treatment may be used on those patients.
A 2015 study found that certain genes seem to contribute to making chemotherapy less effective in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. Therefore, this could help patients in the decision-making process when considering the options for how much treatment to pursue.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, a mesothelioma lawyer in Philadelphia at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help answer all your legal questions. We offer free, confidential initial consultations. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area.