Mesothelioma Biomarker - High Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) protein as a novel, sensitive biomarker for detecting asbestos exposure and mesothelioma

Case ID: 00850


Malignant mesothelioma, associated with asbestos or erionite exposure, is an aggressive and lethal cancer of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many internal organs, and is most commonly found in the pleura (outer lining of the lungs).

The inventors discovered that misregulation of a protein called High Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) is linked to mesothelioma in subjects exposed to asbestos. HMGB1 is a member of the high-mobility group protein super-family that plays important roles in biological processes like transcription, DNA repair, proliferation and inflammation. After asbestos and erionite exposure, HMGB1 is released by mesothelial cells undergoing programmed cell necrosis, initiating inflammatory processes and promoting tumor growth (Yang et al., 2010, Jube et al., 2012).

Utilizing a mouse model of malignant mesothelioma, the inventors discovered HMGB1 to be a highly sensitive biomarker for early detection of mesothelioma, and proposed a number of therapeutic strategies of inhibiting HMGB1 and methods for prevention of mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure.



•       Detection of mesothelioma

•       Detection of asbestos exposure



  • Proposed biomarker for early detection of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure.
  • Highly sensitive marker.



• US Patent 9,244,074



  • Napolitano et al., 2016. HMGB1 and its hyperacetylated isoform are sensitive and specific serum biomarkers to detect asbestos exposure and to identify mesothelioma patients. Clinical Cancer Research, 22(12): 3087‑3096.
  • Jube et al., 2012. Cancer cell secretion of the DAMP protein HMGB1 supports progression in malignant mesothelioma. Cancer Research, 72:3290-3301.
  • Yang et al., 2010. Programmed necrosis induced by asbestos in human mesothelial cells causes high-mobility group box 1 protein release and resultant inflammation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107:12611-12616.
Patent Information:
Haining Yang
Michele Carbone
Harvey Pass

For information, contact:
Ann Park
Technology Licensing Associate
University of Hawaii
(808) 956-9929
Healthcare:Diagnostic Tool

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