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How could multiomic analysis help mesothelioma victims?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Mesothelioma/Asbestos-Related Illness

If you’ve spent much time researching mesothelioma, you’ve probably learned that researchers keep exploring new ways to fight the disease. The more they look, the more they learn about how the disease functions. This knowledge can translate into new treatment approaches and, maybe someday, a cure.

You might also have learned that mesothelioma tumors don’t all look alike. Doctors classify the different mesothelioma tumors according to their location and cell types. We have long known that the different cell types can affect a tumor’s response to treatment. But a new study suggests that a multiomic analysis of mesothelioma tumors might provide a far better understanding of how we can review and treat them.

What is multiomic analysis?

Multiomic analysis is the study of biological features, such as diseases, through multiple lenses all at the same time. Each of these different lenses is a different -ome or -omic. The oldest of these -omics is genomics. Researchers mapped most of the human genome by 2003, and genomics allows researchers to think about diseases in terms of genetic variations.

Genomics is not the only -omic, however. The growing field of multiomics reviews at least six different bodies of data:

  • Genomics
  • Epigenomics
  • Transcriptomics
  • Proteomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Microbiomics

These allow researchers to consider diseases in the context of variations in such things as DNA, RNA, proteins and the full array of microorganisms living within our bodies. Taken together, these fields offer a great deal of context.

How could multiomic analysis help researchers fight mesothelioma?

The additional context provided by multiomic analysis is important. Traditionally, doctors classify mesothelioma tumors based on their histological features. These are the physical features visible under a microscope, and they lead to three different “types” of tumor:

  • Epithelioid
  • Sarcomatoid
  • Biphasic

However, this classification of mesothelioma tumors is not highly informative. The study’s authors note the three histological classifications account for only 10% of the molecular differences between different patients’ tumors.

In other words, the traditional model fails to account for 90% of the molecular variations between mesothelioma tumors. That leaves a lot of room for researchers to gain greater insight into how the tumors form and function. And, again, the more researchers learn about how tumors form and function, the more they can work toward customized treatments.

Because of this, the study’s multiomic analysis is a big step forward. The researchers found four different factors that each explain more than 10% of the molecular differences between tumors. That means each of these four factors, on their own, offers a better understanding of tumor differences than the traditional classification. Taken together, the four factors explain up to 61% of the molecular differences.

New fuel for the ongoing research

The fight against mesothelioma is ongoing. Because we have not yet found a reliable cure, researchers keep looking for better ways to fight the disease. Every new bit of data helps. We know that mesothelioma starts with asbestos exposure. But that’s not enough. The more we understand how the tumors grow, the more ways we might find to target them.

As a result, the introduction of multiomic analysis could be huge. The traditional model fails to explain 90% of what we see. A deeper analysis will start to provide a better picture. And the more we see of that picture, the more likely we’ll find something that can help.

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