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The reason why some people exposed to asbestos develop malignant mesothelioma, and others do not is something that has been studied for many years.
It is known that a mutation in the BAP 1 gene can predispose some people to certain types of cancer, including mesothelioma. If the BAP 1 tumour suppressing protein is not present, malignant mesothelioma is more likely to develop.
It is now reported that a new study suggests that BAP 1 may not be the only generic mutation that can make people more susceptible to the potentially deadly effects of asbestos exposure.
Researchers at several Italian universities have identified ten different generic variants which, that may influence the development of mesothelioma.
It is reported that the research team theorized that other genes involved in hereditary cancer syndromes might also be linked to a predisposition to mesothelioma. They looked for germline mutations, which are genetic mutations that could be passed from one generation to the next, in 93 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. They reportedly focused on 94 genes which are known to predispose people with cancer, and they found 10 variants that appeared to increase the risk of mesothelioma. The genes are involved in DNA repair pathways, and patients carrying these variants represented almost 10% of the panel and showed lower asbestos exposure than the other patients. The results reportedly suggest that, in nearly 1 in 10 mesothelioma patients studied, their bodies were not capable of efficiently repairing the DNA damage caused by asbestos exposure and this inability led to some cells becoming malignant and producing mesothelioma tumours.
The study sheds some light on the possible origin of some mesothelioma cases, but there is still no known way to prevent mesothelioma in people who have been exposed to asbestos. However, understanding the mechanism behind a particular person’s mesothelioma could reportedly help doctors to select the most effective mesothelioma treatment. It could also warn those people who are at high risk to be wary of any situation that could expose them to asbestos. Most people however who receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma do not have any known predisposition to the disease and it is reported that no amount of asbestos exposure is safe, and some cases of mesothelioma occur after only a brief exposure.
Andrew Stinchcombe of Novum Law comments “This research is very interesting and as more and more research and studies are conducted, it is hoped that more effective treatments can be developed which can be tailored to specific individuals. At present however there is still no known cure for mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos dust should be avoided”.
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