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A Mesothelioma Gene?

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Researchers led by Fox Chase Cancer Center's Joseph Testa have discovered a possible genetic link to mesothelioma, says an NIH press release. In a new study published in Nature Genetics, Testa and his team say that people who carry a mutation in the BAP1 gene are susceptible to developing both mesothelioma and melanoma of the eye. Furthermore, NIH says, if these individuals are exposed to asbestos or other such fibers, their risk of developing mesothelioma may become "markedly increased." The researchers studied two US families with high incidence of mesothelioma and other cancers associated with BAP1, and saw that every person who had given samples and had developed mesothelioma or uveal melanoma carried BAP1 mutations. "Further investigation led to sequencing the gene in 26 individuals who had developed mesothelioma but did not have a family history of the disease," the press release says. "Tumors from about 25 percent of this group carried mutations in the BAP1 gene, and in two cases the mutations were inherited. Both of the individuals with inherited mutations had previously developed melanoma of the eye." The authors say this is the first study to demonstrate that genetic factors can influence a person's risk for developing these particular cancers.

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