New study offers hope to Mesothelioma sufferers
US scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, MA have carried out a comprehensive genomic analysis of over 200 mesothelioma tumour samples. The study shows there are unknown genetic mutations behind the disease which could lead to better treatment options available which will target these mutations.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma affects the protective lining found around the internal organs of the body. As the asbestos fibres are inhaled during normal breathing, Mesothelioma damages the pleura around the lungs which lead to breathing issues. Exposure to even a single fibre of Asbestos can cause Mesothelioma.
The findings from the new study will be hoping to help improve the diagnosis, screening and predictions for sufferers. At this moment in time there are very few treatment options available and one’s that are available have very low success rate. The five year mortality rate is around the 90% mark, so sufferers who have relapsed or not responded to the treatment provided previously have potentially new options available.
Dr Raphael Bueno, the study leader said “By studying so many samples, we’ve been able to describe a spectrum of mutations for this rare disease. A small number of these mutations have been found previously in other cancers, and drugs have been developed to target these mutations. This new work suggests that patients with such mutations may benefit from certain existing drugs”.
Researchers have suggested the Mesothelioma outcomes may improve in the future by performing genetic profiling on the sufferers to determine fingerprint of the tumour, which will help researchers to match them with the correct treatment.
Professor Dean Fennell, a Cancer Research UK-funded expert in mesothelioma stated “Mesothelioma is a cancer for which we’re urgently searching for new treatments, and this study provides us with a map of how to find them, It’s the most comprehensive analysis to date of the gene defects in mesothelioma cells, and confirms what previous, smaller studies have shown. Most notably it confirms the importance of several genetic flaws, suggesting that some patients could do well on a number of experimental drugs being tested for other cancers – this will now need testing in clinical trials.”
Further tests and studies are planned to potentially solve further mysteries behind this deadly disease to hopefully find new treatments available. The studies may not lead to a cure; however, what it can do is offer hope and help improve the quality of life for Mesothelioma sufferers when they receive the new treatments.
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