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Dr. Michele Carbone has traveled the world in search of a better understanding of malignant mesothelioma.
He found it, too.
Carbone, director of thoracic oncology at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, is a pathologist with a unique perspective of the deadly cancer that is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 Americans each year.
While researching an article discussing the genetic predisposition for mesothelioma, Carbone traveled to Turkey to view firsthand the erionite-laden buildings and dubbed them “houses of death.”
Carbone has studied the disease in the small villages of Capadoccia, a region in Turkey where people still are dying in alarming proportions from mesothelioma, tracing the epidemic to erionite, a naturally occurring mineral used there for a variety of construction purposes.
It’s the same mineral that is prevalent today in the Killdeer Mountains in North Dakota, where it was used to cover miles of roads, driveways and parking lots in the western parts of the state.
There are currently no reported cases of the cancer in North Dakota, but Carbone’s findings have prompted closer monitoring by the EPA, a cut-back in the nearby gravel mining and an increased awareness among the population in the area.
Making a difference always has been his goal in studying mesothelioma.
His research team in Hawaii has spent considerable time studying how genes may impact a person’s susceptibility to the disease. The team has worked to develop both preventative and therapeutic treatments based on those genetics.
According to the Hawaii Cancer Center, Carbone and his research team have received more than half of all federal funding for mesothelioma. And approximately 90 percent of the mesothelioma-specific funding from the National Cancer Institute goes to them.
Carbone previously worked at the Cancer Center of Loyola University in Chicago, and for the National Institutes of Health, where he studied the pathogenesis of mesothelioma.
Born in Italy, Carbone studied at the Medical School of Rome and is board certified in Anatomic Pathology in both Italy and the United States.
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Carbone and his team of mesothelioma specialists at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center discovered tumor-suppressing protein BAP1 can help oncologists better differentiate the asbestos-related cancer from lung cancer.
People who do not have the BAP1 protein are more likely to develop malignant mesothelioma.
“Now we have an additional tool that we can use to increase the accuracy of a diagnosis,” Carbone told Asbestos.com. “The fact is today there is a high rate of misdiagnosis. And there are many reasons for that. We need to use this tool to help get it right.”
Oncotarget published Carbone’s study July 2016.
He and associate professor Haining Yang received a three-year, $1.9 million DOD Translational Team Science Award to study HMGB1, a protein that may serve as a biomarker in predicting the risk for developing mesothelioma.
In addition to that grant, Carbone and other researchers also received the Pentagon’s two-year, $600,000 Idea Award with Special Focus grant to concentrate on more genetic research.
In addition to the recent BAP1 discoveries, Carbone also explored the presence of SV40 virus in mesothelioma patients and genetic interaction in human malignancies such as mesothelioma.
For more information about Carbone and his attention to mesothelioma, visit his personal website at Oak Park Pathology.
Disclaimer: Dr. Michele Carbone has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.
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