EPIC Working Groups - Cancer Working Groups
The Mesothelioma Working Group
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare aggressive tumour whose main risk factor is asbestos exposure. Starting in the nineties, asbestos use was banned in several countries. However, potential sources of asbestos exposure are still widespread: several sites where asbestos was mined or manufactured in the past and millions of square meters of asbestos cement slates still need to be cleared, creating a risk environment for nearby dwellers. In Italy, for example, over 30.000 such sites are reported. MPM mortality rate is expected to increase by 5–10% per year in most industrialized countries for the next 2 decades, despite asbestos abatement efforts.
MPM has poor prognosis and is likely due to the lack of an efficient screening approach for its early detection, and to the ineffectiveness of current treatments. Currently, no sensitive screening method is available to monitor asbestos-exposed subjects, who have high risk of developing MPM. In recent years, epigenetic markers, such as DNA methylation (DNAm) and microRNAs (miRNAs) profiles, are gaining popularity as possible early diagnosis and prognostic biomarkers in cancer research. The major goal of the EPIC Mesothelioma Working Group is to improve early detection and screening, in particular by evaluating risk prediction models and by identifying pre-diagnostic biomarkers.
Current project involves the investigation of epigenetic and proteomic changes in blood and serum samples related to MPM risk and to assess the effects of asbestos exposure.
Since only a small portion of asbestos exposed people develop MPM, the WG also focuses on the study of germline mutations that can increase MPM susceptibility in asbestos exposed subjects.
Genomic (SNP arrays and NGS analysis), epigenomic (DNA methylation and miRNA) and biochemical (proteomics in serum) data will be integrated with the final goal to provide tools to detect early effects, in order to possibly allow also a more effective therapeutic intervention.
- Allione et al., Proteomics in the mesothelioma EPIC cohort (in preparation)
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- Allione A et al. Blood cell DNA methylation biomarkers in preclinical malignant pleural mesothelioma: The EPIC prospective cohort. Int J Cancer 2023 Feb 15;152(4):725-737. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34339. Epub 2022 Nov 5. PMID: 36305648
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Contact details/Working Group leaderProf. Giuseppe Matullo, PhD
Dept of Medical Sciences
University of Turin
Via Santena 19, Turin, Italy