Scientists find gene linked to lung cancer
A GENE has been identified that may help scientists understand the biology of lung cancer, it was disclosed yesterday. Although triggers such as tobacco tar and radioactive radon gas are known to be linked to lung cancer, little is understood of the genet
Yesterday scientists identified a gene present in humans and other mammals that could hold the key to the steps that lead to lung cancer.
Studies in mice showed when the gene, known as Dutt1/Robo1, is missing during foetal development the lungs grow abnormally.
When the gene was deleted from a group of mice, 63% died at birth. Those that survived went on to suffer pre-cancerous abnormalities in their lungs similar to those which herald lung cancer in humans.
The researchers - from Cambridge University and the Medical Research Council - believe when the gene is defective it may open the door for cancer triggers such as tobacco tar.
Further work was expected to lead to better ways of investigating the link between genetic mutations and lung cancer.
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists, led by Jian Xian from the MRC Molecular Oncology Group at Cambridge University, said the mouse mutants could be the starting point for useful models of multistep lung tumour development.
"The observed cellular phenotypes of hyperplasia and dysplasia (abnormal growths) have a parallel in the early development of human lung cancer," they wrote.