Genomics Fields of Application in Toxic Tort Cases

There are numerous fields of application of Genetics and Genomics to Toxic Tort Cases. Here are a few examples of how the science has be applied by members of the Partnership. In all cases there is the opportunity to study alternative causation and determine the individuals genetic predisposition and familial inheritance. In many cases there is also the ability to study the individuals susceptibility and even study the disease itself, which is often not what it might first appear.



Asbestos can be any of six naturally occurring silicate minerals. Exposure to asbestos can lead to illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma was previously thought to only be caused by asbestos exposure. It is now known that, like all cancers, there is also a heritable genetic component to mesothelioma, there are other lifestyle and environmental factors that can induce it, individuals can actually have resistance to it, and individuals with no asbestos exposure can develop the disease.



There are many sources of ionizing radiation, including: environmental, occupational, consumer products, and industrial. Historically, epidemiological data was employed to decide if a plaintiff was likely to have been exposed. This type of data is applicable at a population level resulting in a wide array of claims of exposure and resulting diseases that are difficult to validate or disprove. The use of genomics in cases involving ionizing radiation exposure allows the individual in question to be studied directly.



Numerous claims are brought for every chemical that has an MSDS sheet or is used in agriculture, gasoline, or consumer products. For many chemicals, such as Benzene, we have extensive experience with assessing causation, susceptibility and type of disease. Depending on the level of published research in existence, or the magnitude of the risk being faced by a corporation, primary studies can show genetic signatures to validate the exposure and alternative causation and susceptibility can be studied for each individual.



Heavy metals cases in some ways resemble chemical exposure cases and in other ways have characteristics of radiation cases. The availability of the components of research studies will depend on the prevalence of information in the published literature about the alleged toxicant and the willingness of the defendant to conduct primary studies. In all cases, alternative causation can be explored.



Drugs response is one of the cornerstone applications of genomics research. For pharmaceutical companies genomics is advancing quickly allowing for the development of personalized medicine and improving the quality and safety of drugs, but also providing a method of defense when looking at the individual and not just large population studies. Drug specific responses can be explored as can alternative causation research.



When a child suffers from a condition parents want to understand why. Blame is often placed on medical professionals, drug companies, device companies or producers of products that may have interacted with the mother or child. Genomics studies continue to elucidate on the reasons behind numerous developmental issues.