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Researchers Look at Genomes of Nonsmokers With Lung Cancer

January 10, 2012

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

Never-smokers — people who’ve smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes over a
lifetime — account for about 10 percent of lung cancer cases.

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 in Phoenix.

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

“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 colleagues.

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

He and his colleagues are now validating these findings in a larger
group of never-smokers and smokers with lung adenocarcinoma.

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.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about lung cancer in nonsmokers.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/researchers-look-genomes-nonsmokers-lung-cancer-210413672.html


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