The International Mesothelioma Program’s (IMP) genomic project is a collaborative effort to discover mutations associated with mesothelioma that may potentially be valuable as markers for diagnosis, prognosis, or therapy.
The project has achieved several milestones:
- Discovery of the unique mutational profiles or “genetic fingerprints” of multiple mesothelioma tumors from individual patients. Although the notion of a genetic fingerprint is not new in cancer research, it was the first time anyone anywhere had sequenced the entire transcriptome of a mesothelioma tumor.
- IMP researchers used a new technology called massively parallel sequencing to examine the entire genome of a mesothelioma tumor and matched normal tissue from the same person. The IMP scientists were the first to apply this technology to research in mesothelioma. This is the first time the entire genome of a mesothelioma tumor has been described.
- Researchers are studying mutational differences shared by subsets of tumors. Although each tumor has a unique mutational profile, groups of tumors do share common mutations. These genes are likely to be important in some way in diagnosing or treating mesothelioma. Specifically, mutations and other anomalies are being mapped to define aberrant pathways for therapeutic targeting with novel drugs.
- Further work on shared mutations may set the stage for clinicians to stratify patients based on molecular markers. This ability to look for specific markers and customize therapy based on what the markers tell us could open the door to a new level of personalized medicine.
- We are testing, in clinical trials, new drugs as directed by mutations and unique biological behavior. All mesothelioma patients are eligible to have their tumors tested to see if they qualify to participate.