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Genome study charts genetic landscape of lung cancer
Date:11/4/2007

the researchers uncovered a total of 57 genomic changes that occur frequently in lung cancer patients. Of these, only about 15 are linked to genes previously known to be involved in lung adenocarcinoma. The rest, though, remain to be discovered.

Strikingly, the most common abnormality identified in the Nature study involves a region on chromosome 14 that encompasses two known genes, neither of which had been previously associated with cancer. Through additional studies in cancer cells, co-first author Sue-Ann Woo and other researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute revealed that one of the genes, NKX2.1, influences cancer cell growth. The NKX2.1 gene normally acts as a sort of master regulator controlling the activity of other key genes in a special group of cells lining the lungs tiny air sacs, called alveoli. This discovery, that a gene functioning in a select group of cells rather than all cells can promote cancer growth, may have broad implications for the design of novel, molecularly targeted cancer drugs.

The second phase of the TSP, now underway, will examine the same lung tumor samples analyzed in the first phase, but at an even greater level of genetic detail. Using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods, the scientists will characterize small changes in the genetic code of several hundred human genes, which are already implicated in other cancers or more generally in cell growth.


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Contact: Nicole Davis
ndavis@broad.mit.edu
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Source:Eurekalert

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