Haining Yang headshot
Haining Yang

An international team of researchers led by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center Assistant Professor Haining Yang has identified HMGB1 as a critical protein in the pathogenesis of malignant mesothelioma, one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. These findings were published in May’s online issue of Cancer Research.

This discovery outlines the process that causes the growth of these cancers and offers scientists a unique opportunity to develop specific therapies to treat mesothelioma.

“We are very excited about this discovery,” said Yang. “The next step is to translate this discovery into actual treatments for mesothelioma patients.”

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer usually diagnosed at late stages and is resistant to current treatments. The average survival is less than one year. However, 5 percent of patients diagnosed at an early stage have survivals of 5 to 10 years or more. Therefore, the identification of new biomarkers for early detection and novel targets for mesothelioma prevention and therapy are sorely needed. The discovery will help shed lights on these aspects.

The UH Cancer Center is a global leader in mesothelioma research. The center’s thoracic oncology team, led by Director Michele Carbone and Yang, has also been instrumental in several other recent discoveries including the identification of the gene that causes mesothelioma, BAP1.

The current study was an international effort and included investigators from the UH Cancer Center, UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, the San Raffaele University and Research Institute in Milan, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and the New York University School of Medicine.

For more information, read the news release or the abstract.