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Genes Linked to Lung Cancer Adenocarcinoma Discovered

written by: Rafael•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 10/22/2008

As genetic research progresses new sets of genes, related to diseases and disorders are discovered. A recent discovery of genes that increase the risk of lung cancer may open up the door for new treatment and diagnostic options.

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    The new research has found that the number of genes related to adenocarcinoma in lungs is almost twice that of what was previously known. The finding of this new set of genes for lung cancer opens up the door to new diagnostic and therapeutic options. Lung cancer disease is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

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    Lung cancer genes

    The new study was part of a bigger project called the “Tumor Sequencing Project”, which was established as a collaborative effort to discover and build a genome catalog of the genetic mutations in lung adenocarcinoma. Researchers took samples from 188 lung cancer patients. More than 600 suspected genes were sequenced in these samples and compared to sequenced genes from healthy DNA donors.

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    Genetic research

    The results showed that although there were more than 1000 mutations present in the lung cancer DNA samples, 26 of those mutated genes were significantly present in greater numbers. Looking closely, researchers and scientists were able to establish that those 26 genes are linked to lung adenocarcinoma.

    Most of those genes were not previously associated with the disease. For example, researchers found that more than 70% of the 188 DNA lung cancer samples displayed at least one mutation affecting the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Based on this new finding, researchers suggest that new treatment strategies could be developed. MEK inhibitors, compounds that inhibit the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway could certainly have positive impacts on lung cancer patients.

    Also, more than 30 % of the 188 samples had genetic mutations related to the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. A drug, which inhibits mTOR, currently approved for organ transplants and renal cancer, could be used for lung cancer patients.

    Other new genes discovered in lung adenocarcinoma include:

    *Neurofibromastosis 1

    *Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)

    *Adenomatosis polyposis coli (APC)

    Data from the Tumor Sequencing Project are complementary to The Cancer Genome Atlas project. This type of study will allow us to know more about our genetic make up and will permit the development of new therapeutic options for people afflicted with different types of cancers.

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    Source:

    Nature. October 23rd 2008 issue.