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Genetic Alterations in Lung Cancer

Working as part of an international team of researchers, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine and the Siteman Cancer Center have completed a massive effort to map the genetic changes underlying adenocarcinoma, the most commonly diagnosed form of lung cancer. Their results were published in the Dec. 6, 2007, issue of the journal Nature.

The research provides an unprecedented view of the abnormal genetic landscape in lung cancer cells from patients with adenocarcinoma. The investigators found more than 50 genomic regions that are frequently gained or lost in these tumors. Although one-third of these regions contain genes already known to play roles in lung cancer, the remaining ones harbor genes that had not yet been linked to the disease.

The team also uncovered a key genetic alteration not previously linked to any form of cancer that is associated with many cases of lung cancer. This discovery sheds light on the biological basis of the disease and points to a potential new target for therapy.

“We have assembled a very intriguing initial picture of the lung cancer genome,” says Richard Wilson, PhD, director of Washington University’s Genome Sequencing Center, which contributed to the research.“Our hope is that this work will help shape new strategies for the early diagnosis of the disease and novel therapies.”

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