In 2005 Dr. Gazdar and his colleagues at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center helped make a key discovery in this field. They found that lung-cancer patients who have never smoked are much more likely than smokers to harbor one of three mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene. In addition, they found that such mutations are more common in women and among people of Asian ancestry.
For the current project, cancer scientists at the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, University of Southern California and at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver will undertake a coordinated approach to biomarker discovery, using their expertise to study the same sets of specimens by different methods. Researchers hope to open the project to additional researchers after the first year.
The researchers will use lung-cancer cell lines, tumor and lung tissue, and blood specimens to conduct studies in proteomics, gene mutations and copy numbers, microRNAs (ribonucleic acid), methylation, mitochondrial mutations and gene expression. Many of these studies will examine the entire genome.
"By pooling our talents we have a much better chance of rapid success," Dr. Gazdar said. "The challenge is going to be interpreting the vast amount of data we expect to generate."
The data will be funneled to a single repository, and the results will be integrated to find the most promising biomarkers.
"What we're missing right now is sequencing the whole genome for each patient's specimens," Dr. Gazdar said. "We think that sequencing the whole genome is going to be crucial, but we're still seeking additional funding for that."
The ultimate goal is to develop a test to screen both nonsmokers and long-term former smokers before the onset of symptoms.
"About 10 to 15 years after someon
|Contact: Connie Piloto|
UT Southwestern Medical Center