The recent Perrin Conference on Cutting-Edge Issues in Asbestos Litigation (March 7 and 8, 2022) included a panel on the very cutting edge topic of using genetic sequencing data in litigation involving mesotheliomas and other cancers. Our Kirk Hartley presented and covered a wide range of topics at some of the many intersections between science and law with respect to cancer causation analysis. Among other things, he discussed some of the results from an important recent study that reported findings from whole-genome sequencing of 14 persons who developed mesothelioma. One of the key results showed that it presently is impossible to reliably predict in advance the precise combinations of cancer-associated mutations that will be found in a particular person.
Kirk also provided other key information about the use of genetic sequencing data in cases involving mass torts or cancer cluster cases. He provided information about the hundreds of thousands of whole-genome sequences that are now and will soon be available for review by researchers focused on specific diseases, and that inevitably will be used in litigation. Hartley also pointed out the fact that “printed” reports of whole genome and whole exome sequencing of a person typically do NOT report on many of the mutations actually found, and so litigators need to think about taking steps to acquire the data not shown in the printed versions of the reports. He also explained protein-protein interaction, a concept important for trial litigators interested in the effective presentation of genomic data in the courtroom.