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Wistar-led research team discovers genetic pattern that indicates early-stage lung cancer
Date:12/1/2009

PHILADELPHIA (December 1, 2009) Wistar Institute researchers and collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University have identified immune system markers in the blood which indicate early-stage lung tumors in people at high risk for developing lung cancer. The findings, published online December 1 in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, could lead to a simple blood test to detect lung cancer in its earliest phases, when it can be most successfully treated.

Wistar investigators Louise C. Showe, Ph.D., and Michael K. Showe Ph.D., and colleagues examined gene expression profiles in blood samples from more than 200 patients with lung cancer or other, non-malignant, lung diseases. Focusing on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and the large at-risk population of smokers and ex-smokers, the researchers sought to determine whether lung tumorseven at the earliest stagesleave a gene expression signature in circulating blood cells. Recent studies have shown that in some late-stage cancers, an immune system response can be detected in the blood which can contain information on responsiveness to therapy or identify markers associated with prognosis.

For the study, peripheral blood was drawn from lung disease patients at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (Penn) and the New York University School of Medicine from 2003 through 2007, and the gene expression patterns in the samples were analyzed at Wistar. The team was able to identify a 29-gene "signature" that separated 137 patients with NSCLC tumors from 91 patient controls with non-malignant lung conditions, with 86 percent accuracy. Immune cells, which normally function to fight tumors, showed certain changes in the patients with malignant tumors that distinguished them from those of patients with other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema and patients with benign lung nodules.


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Contact: Staci Vernick Goldberg
sgoldberg@wistar.org
215-898-3716
The Wistar Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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