Gene study turns up 26 lung cancer genes

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A broad analysis of genes has turned up 26 mutations linked with the most common form of lung cancer, several of which play a role in other cancers as well, researchers said on Wednesday.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, double the number of genes already linked with lung adenocarcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer that accounts for 40 percent of the more than 1 million lung cancer deaths each year.

“We think that our study may achieve a real impact on the cure of lung cancer patients,” Dr. Matthew Meyerson of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University said in a telephone briefing.

Meyerson was part of an international team that decoded 623 genes from tumors in 188 lung cancer patients and compared these to genes from normal tissues from the same people.

They found 26 genes that were most commonly altered in the tumors, most of which had never been linked with lung cancer. Some had been found in other types of tumors.

The new genes included mutations in neurofibromatosis 1, a gene known to cause a rare neurological disorder and raise the risk of nerve and brain tumors; ataxia telengiectasia mutated or ATM, which has ties with leukemia and lymphoma; retinoblastoma 1, which is linked with a rare childhood cancer of the eye; and adenomatosis polyposis coli or APC, which is common in colon cancer.

Many of the mutated genes also share common biological pathways or gene networks.

“Looking at the pathways helps simplify the picture,” said Richard Wilson of Washington University in St. Louis, who helped lead the project.  Continued…

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