The Role of Genetics in Mesothelioma

The Role of Genetics in MesotheliomaMesothelioma is a rare but quite aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the body’s organs, known as the mesothelium.

It is mostly linked to exposure to asbestos. It’s a naturally occurring mineral fiber widely used years back in building materials and other products.

However, not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develop Mesothelioma. It’s thought that genetics may play a role in the development of the disease.

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I wrote a research based book on longevity and founded a nutritionist recommended online program called The Stop Emotional Eating Course.

I am committed to sharing insights and strategies to help people protect from a range of diseases – and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

And so I put together this helpful health guide on the role of genetics in Mesothelioma.

Inherited Genetic Mutations

Some people may be more susceptible to developing mesothelioma due to inherited genetic mutations. Two genes that have been identified as potentially playing a role in the development of the disease are BAP1 and CDKN2A.

The BAP1 gene provides instructions for making a protein that helps regulate the activity of other genes. Including those involved in cell division and death. Mutations in this gene have been associated with an increased risk of mesothelioma and other types of cancer.

In particular, people with inherited BAP1 mutations have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma if they’re also exposed to asbestos.

The CDKN2A gene provides instructions for making a protein that helps regulate the cell cycle. Which also is the process responsible for how cells grow and divide. Mutations in this gene have also been linked to an increased risk of Mesothelioma and other types of cancer. In some cases, inherited CDKN2A mutations may be mesothelioma’s only known risk factor.

Researchers are continuing to study the role of these and other genes in the development of mesothelioma. With the hope of using this information to develop targeted therapies for the disease.

For example, drugs targeting the proteins produced by mutated BAP1 or CDKN2A genes. These may inhibit the growth of types of cancer cells in people with these mutations.

Gene Expression and Mesothelioma

In addition to inherited genetic mutations, other behavior may have some effect. Like how genes are expressed, or turned on and off may also play a role in the development and progression of mesothelioma. A complex network of regulatory mechanisms, including DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNA molecules controls gene expression.

These mechanisms can be influenced by various factors. This includes environmental exposures and lifestyle factors.

Some studies have suggested that certain patterns of gene expression may be associated with a more aggressive form of mesothelioma. But others may be associated with a better prognosis.

For example, a study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that high levels of the gene FOXM1 expression were linked to a worse prognosis in mesothelioma patients. On the other hand, high expression levels of the gene TP53 were associated with a better prognosis.

Understanding the role of gene expression in mesothelioma may help develop more personalized treatments for the disease based on the specific genetic profile of each patient.

For example, therapies that target the regulatory mechanisms that control gene expression. This may be able to alter the expression of genes that promote the growth of cancer cells or inhibit the expression of genes that suppress cancer growth.

Using Genetic Information in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Mesothelioma

Researchers continue to explore the role of genetics in mesothelioma. They’re also looking at ways to use this information in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

One method being looked into is liquid biopsies, which involve looking for cancer cells or genetic changes linked to cancer in a small amount of blood or other body fluid.

This non-invasive test can potentially be used for the early detection of mesothelioma and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

For example, liquid biopsies may be able to detect the presence of cancer cells or genetic changes at early mesothelioma stages, when the disease is more treatable. They might also be able to keep track of how the treatment is going, which would let doctors make changes to the plan as needed.

Another area of research is the use of targeted therapies. Some of which are designed to specifically attack the genetic changes that drive the growth of cancer cells. These therapies may be more effective and have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs. Something of note since these can damage normal cells as well as cancer cells.

For example, the drug Pembrolizumab. This is approved for treating certain types of cancer. This has shown promise in treating mesothelioma with certain genetic mutations. It targets the PD-1 protein, which is expressed on the surface of immune cells and helps regulate the immune response.

Some mesothelioma cells have high levels of PD-1, allowing them to evade the immune system and continue to grow. By targeting PD-1, Pembrolizumab may help boost the immune response against mesothelioma cells.


The role of genetics in mesothelioma is complicated and multifaceted. Some genetic factors, like mutations or abnormalities passed down from a parent, can make a person more likely to get mesothelioma, while others can affect a person’s sensitivity to asbestos fibers.

Because genetic testing for mesothelioma is still relatively new, it is important for anyone at risk of this condition to speak with their doctor about their medical history and any potential familial health risks that may have existed prior to their diagnosis.

Hopefully, more research in this area will lead to better treatment options for those affected by this devastating disease. 

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