Past genetic studies on the body’s response to asbestos , which leads to the development of mesothelioma , have been fraught with difficulties. The complexity of the reactions meant that a direct link to genetics would be hard to find. A recent study reported in the September issue of BMC Genomics might provide the information scientists need to gain insights into the role genetics plays in the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. Rather than examining a single gene, the study used a “systems biology” approach which looked at interplay of several genes. By looking at the response of these genes to asbestos exposure in the body’s lung epithelial cells, the scientists could note changes.
Particularly close scrutiny was given to those genes involved in the cellular life cycle. Any error in cell replication can lead to the development of cancer such as the deadly mesothelioma. With a more thorough examination of the body’s development of mesothelioma, new avenues for treatments have been opened. Current treatment procedures for mesothelioma include radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy, but these have all proven to be ineffective in the past. The genetic study could lead to genetic therapies to cure or mitigate mesothelioma.