New cause of peritoneal mesothelioma identified

18 Sep 2017 by under News, Research/Treatment
Peritoneales Mesotheliom CREDITHELLERHOFFWIKI 100x100 New cause of peritoneal mesothelioma identified

Credit: Hellerhoff via Wikipedia

, a rare, deadly cancer that affects the lining of internal organs, is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos,  a group of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that were once used in a variety of construction and manufacturing processes for heat resistance. However, other causes of the cancer have been discovered, including radiation therapy and most recently, a genetic mutation, according to Science Daily.

Researchers at ’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital have identified an inherited genetic mutation to the ALK gene that causes mesothelioma to develop. “This was a serendipitous discovery. We had a young patient with peritoneal mesothelioma that was difficult to diagnose,” one of the study’s authors states. “We extended our molecular diagnostics to test for a genetic rearrangement that had been reported in lymphoma and lung cancer, but never in mesothelioma. When it came back positive, we were intrigued.” Three of the 88 patients the team examined with peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the stomach, had the gene variation.

Though the exact role of the ALK gene is not yet known, it is thought “to act early in development to help regulate the proliferation of nerve cells,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports. Though peritoneal mesothelioma is an incredibly rare subtype of mesothelioma — only comprising 300 of the 3,000 mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year — researchers are hopeful discovering of another cause of the disease will increase treatment options, the news source reports.

“When I teach my residents about the causes of mesothelioma, I talk to them about asbestos, radiation therapy and an inherited mutation,” one researcher said. “We believe this paper adds a fourth cause to that list — one that is potentially clinically actionable,” the study states.

 

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