Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Biological markers of risk for development, progression and treatment response in asbestos related diseases

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.04.00  Medical sciences  Oncology   

Code Science Field
3.02  Medical and Health Sciences  Clinical medicine 
asbestos related diseases; malignant mesothelioma; molecular biomarkers; telomeres; extracellular vesicles; miRNA
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  34769  Tanja Blagus  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2020 - 2023  71 
2.  12218  PhD Metoda Dodič Fikfak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2020 - 2023  1,229 
3.  11711  PhD Vita Dolžan  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Head  2020 - 2023  764 
4.  32515  Nevenka Flis Šlibar    Technical associate  2020 - 2023 
5.  23759  PhD Alenka Franko  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2020 - 2023  386 
6.  33110  PhD Katja Goričar  Oncology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  287 
7.  16229  PhD Viljem Kovač  Medical sciences  Researcher  2020 - 2023  297 
8.  18847  Marjan Kužnik    Technical associate  2023 
9.  24288  PhD Metka Lenassi  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2020 - 2023  201 
10.  24781  MSc Barbara Možina  Medical sciences  Researcher  2020 - 2023  82 
11.  28506  PhD Urška Sivka  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2021  19 
12.  20176  PhD Uroš Smrdel  Oncology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  119 
13.  32452  PhD Danijela Štrbac  Medical sciences  Researcher  2020 - 2023  42 
14.  20253  PhD Katarina Trebušak Podkrajšek  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  402 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0302  Institute of Oncology Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5055733000  15,434 
2.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  77,334 
3.  0381  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine  Ljubljana  1627066  48,182 
The long latency period from asbestos exposure to development of asbestos related diseases, the increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma (MM) and the poor prognosis despite the multimodal treatment calls for the identification of non-invasive molecular predictors for timely diagnosis and for early prediction of the response to treatment. We have designed two clinical studies: a retrospective case-control study that will allow the research of a new group of biological markers of development of asbestos related diseases in individuals that were occupationally exposed to asbestos and a longitudinal follow-up study that will allow us to study the biomarkers of treatment response to malignant mesothelioma (MM) treatment with different chemotherapy regimens. On the gene level, we will assess tag SNPs in immune checkpoint genes as potential independent or composite biomarkers of MM treatment response. We will also investigate, if telomere lengths and genetic factors that may influence their length play a role in the development of MM and its aggressiveness. Serum calretinin is such of particular interest as a potential non-invasive diagnostic or prognostic biomarker. In tumor tissue, calretinin represents one of the most sensitive and specific immunohistochemical biomarkers of MM, and recent reports indicate that its blood levels may increase more than one year before the clinical diagnosis of MM can be made. We will measure calretinin serum levels and investigate genetic and epigenetic factors regulating its expression as potential independent or composite biomarkers of MM development, progression and treatment response. The most innovative aspect of our research, however, is the study of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and their cargo, especially miRNAs. EVs and miRNAs are outstanding tools for studying the molecular processes associated with asbestos-related diseases and can contribute to a better understanding of basic molecular processes and to identification of potential targets enabling new approaches for MM treatment. The risk of developing the asbestos related diseases, as well as the response to treatment, is influenced by many factors whose impact is intertwined, therefor simultaneous impact of different types of biological markers and their interactions with environmental and lifestyle factors must be taken into account in the risk assessment. Taking into account a growing number of potential biomarkers, we will develop multivariate predictive models to integrate the clinical and biomarker data into scoring system based decision algorithms that would enable the translation of biomarker based approaches into clinical practice.
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