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Home News and Update Year 2010 Lung Cancer Even in Non-smokers? Gene Holds Key

Lung Cancer Even in Non-smokers? Gene Holds Key

Times of India
25 March 2010

Scientists have discovered what they claim is a common gene that raises the risk of developing lung cancer in non-smokers, a breakthrough which may pave the way for new targeted therapies for patients.

Despite several attempts to identify the specific genetic mechanisms responsible, the causes of lung cancer in “never-smokers” remain poorly understood. Now, an international team, led by Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in New York, has identified the gene known as GPC5 which predisposes non-smokers to lung cancer, leading British newspaper London Times reported.

The scientists, led by Ping Yang, examined DNA samples from 754 “never-smokers”, and analysed over 300,000 DNA variants known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP).

These were compared with samples from members of the public matched to patients by age, sex and ethnicity to show the genetic variations most likely to alter the risk of lung cancer in never-smokers.

The research also analysed possible links to lung cancer while controlling for history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exposure to second-hand smoke, and family history of lung cancer.

Two specific genetic markers or SNPs emerged as significant. To validate their findings, the scientists took the 44 most frequently occurring genetic alterations from the research and assessed them in two additional independent groups of never smokers.

The two SNPs remained significant in both the replication sets, and further research backed the conclusion that they were associated with lung cancer in non-smokers through how they regulate the expression of the GPC5 gene. PTI

RNA Therapy can Control Tumours
For the first time, researchers have used short sequences of RNA that can effectively treat skin cancer in people by silencing specific genes behind tumour production. Mark Davis from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues have used the technique, called RNA interference (RNAi), to deliver particles containing such sequences to patients with the skin cancer melanoma. When analysing biopsies of the tumours after treatment, they found that the particles had inhibited expression of a key gene, called RRM2, needed for the cancer cells to multiply. The researchers created the particles from two polymers plus a protein that binds to receptors on the surface of cancer cells and pieces of RNA called smallinterfering RNA, or siRNA, designed to stop the RRM2 gene from being translated into protein.

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