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Sleuthing lung cancer

'Normal' cells may contain harbingers of future disease

By Scott Merville

 Humam Kadara, Ph.D., assistant professor in Translational Molecular Pathology at MD Anderson

Seemingly healthy cells may in fact hide clues that lung cancer will later develop, according to a study led by MD Anderson and published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Examination of gene expression in patients with non-small cell lung cancer showed the area adjacent to tumors is rich with cancer markers. In addition, researchers discovered the previously unknown role of a cancer-promoting gene in the airways of smokers with lung cancer.

“We believe this study has a ‘double whammy’ application,” says study lead author Humam Kadara, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Translational Molecular Pathology. “These cancer-associated changes that distinguish the airways of smokers with lung cancer and healthy smokers may help us diagnose lung cancer earlier and develop more effective treatment strategies.”

The work was funded in part by grants from the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, the Jimmy Lane Hewlett Lung Cancer Research Fund, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lung cancer SPORE grant, Department of Defense grants and MD Anderson’s NCI Cancer Center Support grant.

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