Global Mesothelioma Experts Convening in Hawaii, says Surviving Mesothelioma

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Surviving Mesothelioma reports that in response to new findings that mesothelioma has a genetic link, global mesothelioma experts are preparing to convene in Hawaii on Friday, December 2, 2011 to discuss how that link could be used to treat or prevent the disease.

When people with the BAP1 mutation are exposed to asbestos or erionite, mesothelioma appears to predominate and may be the cause of death in 50% of family members.

Surviving Mesothelioma reports that in response to new findings that mesothelioma has a genetic link, global mesothelioma experts are preparing to convene in Hawaii on Friday, December 2, 2011 to discuss how that link could be used to treat or prevent the disease. The Third Annual Translational Cancer Medicine Symposium will feature more than 20 global experts in cancer genetics.

Unlike most cancers, mesothelioma has a known trigger: exposure to fibers of the mineral asbestos. But, although tens of thousands of people are exposed to asbestos, and its similarly-dangerous cousin erionite, only a tiny fraction of them ever develop mesothelioma. The disparity has puzzled mesothelioma researchers for years.

But this past summer, scientists at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia may have found an explanation. The team was able to pinpoint a connection between a mutation of the BAP1 gene and the development of mesothelioma in people who have been exposed to asbestos. The same mutation was also shown to predispose patients to several other types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, pancreatic and renal cancers.

According to a University of Hawaii news release on the findings, when people with the BAP1 mutation are exposed to asbestos or erionite, “mesothelioma appears to predominate and may be the cause of death in 50% of family members.” The research teams found the BAP1 mutation in about 25 percent of people who had mesothelioma but had no family history of the disease. Research findings on the BAP1/cancer link were published in Nature Genetics.

This discovery and ongoing related research developments will be the subject of the third annual Translational Cancer Medicine Symposium which is aimed at ‘translating’ research findings into clinical practices that benefit patients. Eventually, people who live or work around asbestos may have the option of being tested for the BAP1 mutation to determine their susceptibility to mesothelioma.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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