-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists who have started
to identify genes and pathways associated with lung cancer in
people who have never smoked say it's a first step in the potential
development of new treatments.
Never-smokers -- people who've smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes
over a lifetime -- account for about 10 percent of lung cancer
But this group of lung cancer patients hasn't been studied as
much as smokers who develop lung cancer, according to Timothy
Whitsett, a senior postdoctoral fellow in the cancer and cell
biology division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute
He and his colleagues conducted genetic analyses on three female
patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung, a form of non-small cell
lung cancer. One was a never-smoker with early-stage disease, one
was a never-smoker with late-stage disease and one was a smoker
with early-stage disease.
"In the never-smoker with early-stage cancer, there were very few mutations in the genome, but when we looked at the whole transcriptome, we saw differences in gene expression," Whitsett said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
The never-smoker with late-stage disease had mutations in what
Whitsett called "classic tumor-suppressor genes." It's possible
that mutations of the tumor-suppressor genes may be a factor in
late-stage lung cancer in never-smokers, the researchers said.
The tumors in both never-smokers lacked alterations in common
genes associated with lung cancer, such as EGFR, KRAS and EML/ALK
translocations. This suggests that these patients are ideal cases
for the discovery of new mutations associated with lung
adenocarcinomas in never-smokers, according to Whitsett and
The study was slated for presentation Monday at an
AACR/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer joint
conference on lung cancer, held in San Diego.
"This is the starting point. We certainly have a lot of pathways and gene expression alterations that we're going to be very interested in confirming and looking at in larger cohorts of patients," Whitsett said.
He and his colleagues are now validating these findings in a
larger group of never-smokers and smokers with lung
Because the current study was presented at a medical meeting,
the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Cancer Society has more about
lung cancer in nonsmokers.
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