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Test for lung cancer looks for discomforting quiet among protective genes
Date:9/18/2007

ATLANTA When it is quiet almost too quiet in movies, it is a sign that something is about to go wrong for the good guys. This holds true for the genes that protect against lung cancer, as researchers at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, have learned. They identified a panel of 15 genes that could serve to predict cancer; if enough of their collective activity becomes quiet almost too quiet -- it could mean they are being suppressed by other factors in the cell, a step that may lead to cancer.

According to lead researcher, James C. Willey, M.D., a test for these genes, in normal cells sampled via bronchoscopy, could serve as a technique to identify those individuals genetically at risk for lung cancer. In a study of 49 subjects, Dr. Willey and his colleagues were able to correctly identify the individuals with cancer 96 percent of the time. Dr. Willey presents the teams findings today in Atlanta, Georgia at the American Association for Cancer Researchs second International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development.

Smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, yet only about 10 to 15 percent of heavy smokers will develop lung cancer, said Dr. Willey, an associate professor of medicine and molecular biology at the University of Toledos College of Medicine. We are looking for new techniques that will allow us to pick out the 10 to 15 percent of individuals at highest risk for lung cancer from the enormous pool of current and former smokers.

While advances in screening tools like high resolution coaxial tomography (HRCT) enable increasingly effective early detection of lung cancer, scanning all present or former heavy smokers is problematic and costly when, due to genetic makeup, 85 to 90 percent of them are at low risk despite smoking history, Dr. Willey said. Therefore, Willey believes that a screen to identify the 10 to 15 percent of high risk individuals should increase the accurac
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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