New Biomarker and Potential Target for Mesothelioma Identified by NIH Researchers

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland have published new research identifying a specific protein as a biomarker for survival in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The study, published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, has provided scientists with yet another tool in the battle against this rare and fatal form of cancer.

UHRF1 Protein Identified as Being Overexpressed in Malignant Mesothelioma

The subject of the mesothelioma study is UHRF1, a protein encoded by the UHRF1 gene. It has previously been identified as being overexpressed in several different types of cancer and is believed to drive tumor growth through a process known as hypermethylation. Hypermethylation has been called one of the best prognostic indicators of the presence of cancer.

The study, which was led by Emily S. Reardon MD, MHS of the Thoracic Epigenetics Section, Thoracic Surgery Branch of the Center for Cancer Research National Cancer Instituteset out to determine whether UHRF1 was driving genetic changes in malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Exposure to Asbestos Drives Upregulation of UHRF1 in Mesothelial Cells

The mesothelioma study resulted in four key findings:

  • UHRF1 is found in higher levels in malignant pleural mesothelioma cells than in normal mesothelial cells
  • Exposing normal mesothelial cells to crocidolite asbestos for ten days resulted in a dose-dependent upregulation of UHRF1
  • By minimizing the presence of UHRF1, malignant pleural mesothelioma cell proliferation was inhibited
  • There is an inverse relationship between high levels of UHRF1 and overall survival in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma

Though there is no current, specific inhibitor targeting UHRF1, this mesothelioma study found that available agents were effective, and the researchers point to the need for more investigation, writing, “whereas further studies are necessary to confirm these observations and to ascertain the molecular basis for this phenomenon, our data support prospective studies to determine if UHRF1 over-expression is a biomarker of poor treatment response and decreased survival in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients.”

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, survival and quality of life are what is most important to you. For information on resources and other ways that we can help, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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