Small Molecule Might Play Big Part in Lung Cancer

News — By on July 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Researchers have isolated a small molecule that might play a big part in a form of lung cancer that typically strikes people who have never smoked, opening up the possibilities for new treatments for this deadly malignancy.
The microRNA miR-21 was found particularly elevated in adenocarcinomas that affect never-smokers, especially in individuals who tested positive for mutations in their epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene. Annually, more than 10 percent of lung cancers strike people who never touched a cigarette.
Japanese and American researchers involved in this new study believe that the miR-21 protein is not merely a marker of disease, such as PSA levels are in prostate cancer screenings, but an actual contributor to the cancer process. The findings appear in this week’s online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is very sophisticated, high-end science,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “It’s very intriguing.”
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