Many mesothelioma researchers believe that the future of effective treatment of the rare, asbestos-related disease lies with precision oncology, an approach that analyzes the genetic code of each patient’s disease and uses it to prescribe immunotherapy and other treatment protocols. There has been some success with attempts at pursuing this strategy, but more needs to be learned. A recently conducted study went a long way towards this goal, identifying a 48-gene prognostic signature with a high level of accuracy in predicting patient survival.
NIH Team Examines Tumors from 122 Mesothelioma Patients
To conduct their study, the team from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health extracted information from a dataset of 122 previously treated mesothelioma patients. They analyzed their tumors’ genomic, transcriptomatic and phenotypic information, along with their survival. The patients whose data was used were split evenly between those diagnosed with both malignant pleural mesothelioma and malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Including both in the study allowed the researchers to identify differences between the two.
In analyzing the information that they gathered, the researchers identified a set of 48 genes that, when present in high numbers in mesothelioma tumors, was associated with poor survival. The same “mesothelioma prognostic signature” had previously been identified as a predictive tool in two other studies. The genes are associated with cell cycle and DNA repair, leading the scientists to believe that they are what make the tumors so resistant to standard treatment.
Presence of Mesothelioma Prognostic Signature Creates Immunotherapy Target
Speaking of their findings, Nishanth Ulhas Nair, Ph.D. and staff scientist at Cancer Data Science Laboratory, Center for Cancer Research, explained that the genes included in the mesothelioma prognostic signature create a new target for immunotherapy treatment. The group particularly noted the presence of CCNB1, a cell cycle gene that was previously unknown. Importantly, the team’s analysis concluded that use of the precision oncology framework is so predictive of patient response to anti-PD1 checkpoint inhibitors and chemotherapy that they “could have potentially suggested effective therapy for 50% of the patients in [their] cohort.”
Innovation is the key to finding a cure malignant mesothelioma. To learn more about the research being done and how it can help you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.