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Researchers discover new approach for identifying smokers at highest risk for developing lung cancer
Date:4/7/2010

(Boston) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) in collaboration with investigators at the University of Utah, have discovered a new approach for identifying smokers at the highest risk for developing lung cancer. The findings, which appear in the April 7th issue of Science Translational Medicine, will allow the researchers to use a genomic approach to prevent lung cancer in these individuals and to personalize cancer chemoprophylaxis and therapy.

Cigarette smoke is the dominant cause of lung cancer in the United States, accounting for an estimated 90 percent of all cases. While only 10-20 percent of smokers develop lung cancer in their lifetime, there are currently no tools available to identify which of the approximately 90 million current and former smokers in the U.S. are at the highest risk. Unfortunately, diagnosis is most often made at a very advanced stage where treatment is largely ineffective. The damage caused by cigarette smoke, however, is not limited solely to the lung, but rather constitutes a 'field of injury' throughout the entire respiratory tract that is exposed to the toxin. Consistent with this idea, study lead author Avrum Spira, MD, MSc, chief of the section of computational biomedicine in the department of medicine at BUSM and his colleagues, previously developed a gene expression-based biomarker measured in the cytologically normal bronchial airway epithelium that reflects an individual's physiologic response to smoking and distinguishes smokers with and without lung cancer. Although this biomarker is successful at diagnosing lung cancer, it does not identify the signaling pathways underlying these gene expression changes.

Using a novel gene-expression based approach to define oncogenic pathway signatures, the researchers, in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Bild at the University of Utah, have now discovered that the expression of genes belonging to one specific cancer-related pathway, PI3K
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8480
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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