Report: New Research on BAP1 and Mesothelioma

According to a recent article from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (one of the nation’s leading cancer hospitals), new collaborative research suggests that there may be beneficial treatment for mesothelioma if the BAP1 gene is targeted.

mWd8Wf2Mesothelioma is technically not what we typically refer to as lung cancer. It is an entirely different type of cancer caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers, which become embedded in a layer of tissue surrounding internal organs known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma can form in the chest cavity, stomach, or other organs, but, since it affects breathing and often develops in the lungs, many people incorrectly believe it is the same as lung cancer.

One of the major problems in treating mesothelioma is that it often does not present with noticeable symptoms until it is in a very advanced stage, and the patient normally dies within a year of diagnosis. It is very aggressive at an advanced stage and will often spread to other parts of the body, causing more damage.

However, this new research suggests the cancer has been linked to inherited and acquired mutations in the BAP1 gene. These mutations to the BAP1 gene are also linked to a certain type of eye cancer, as well as renal cell (kidney) carcinoma. Only a small percentage of mesothelioma victims have the inherited form of the BAP1 mutations, but as high as 60 percent of patients suffering from mesothelioma have a mutated BAP1 gene. Since the study showed that targeting the mutated BAP1 gene in treatment of mesothelioma can substantially help these patients, it means that as high as 60 percent of mesothelioma patients will benefit from the new treatment.

While these are positive results from the series of studies, one of the realities facing the families working with our Boston mesothelioma patients is that all of these new treatments are designed to stop or inhibit tumor growth. While that is certainly a laudable goal, the problem is that most cases of mesothelioma are not discovered until the tumor is at a very advanced stage. At this point, suppressing tumor growth may extend a patient’s life a short period of time, but it is not going to go into remission or allow the patient to live anywhere close to a normal life.   Additionally, the time a patient’s life is extended through treatment is often filled with substantial pain and suffering.

Current treatment options for mesothelioma are very invasive and painful. They often involve high doses of radiation and chemotherapy followed by aggressive surgery, which includes removal of organs or at least large portions of some organs.

This pain and suffering is one of the reasons verdicts and even settlements have been so high in mesothelioma lawsuits. There is no question that plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos and that it caused a great deal of pain and suffering. The other reason damages are so high is because we now know beyond any shadow of doubt that these companies knew they were killing people and tried to hide the fact, so they could turn a quick profit.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional resources:

Collaborative Research Suggests Targeting BAP1 May Help Treat Mesothelioma, October 23, 2015, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, by Julie Graham

More Blog Entries:

Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog

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