Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New lung cancer gene found

Cancer biologists identify a driving force behind the spread of an aggressive type of lung cancer.

A major challenge for cancer biologists is figuring out which among the hundreds of genetic mutations found in a cancer cell are most important for driving the cancer’s spread.

Using a new technique called whole-genome profiling, MIT scientists have now pinpointed a gene that appears to drive progression of small cell lung cancer, an aggressive form of lung cancer accounting for about 15 percent of lung cancer cases.

The gene, which the researchers found overexpressed in both mouse and human lung tumors, could lead to new drug targets, says Alison Dooley, a recent PhD recipient in the lab of Tyler Jacks, director of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Dooley is the lead author of a paper describing the finding in the July 15 issue of Genes and Development.

Small cell lung cancer kills about 95 percent of patients within five years of diagnosis; scientists do not yet have a good understanding of which genes control it. Dooley and her colleagues studied the disease’s progression using a strain of mice, developed in the laboratory of Anton Berns at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, that deletes two key tumor-suppressor genes, p53 and Rb.

“The mouse model recapitulates what is seen in human disease. It develops very aggressive lung tumors, which metastasize to sites where metastases are often seen in humans,” such as the liver and adrenal glands, Dooley says.

This kind of model allows scientists to follow the disease progression from beginning to end, which can’t normally be done with humans because the fast-spreading disease is often diagnosed very late. Using whole-genome profiling, the researchers were able to identify sections of chromosomes that had been duplicated or deleted in mice with cancer.

They found extra copies of a few short stretches of DNA, including a segment of chromosome 4 that turned out to include a single gene called Nuclear Factor I/B (NFIB). This is the first time NFIB has been implicated in small cell lung cancer, though it has been seen in a mouse study of prostate cancer. The gene’s exact function is not known, but it is involved in the development of lung cells.

Researchers in Jacks’ lab collaborated with scientists in Matthew Meyerson’s lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute to analyze human cancer cells, and found that NFIB is also amplified in human small cell lung tumors.

That makes a convincing case that the gene truly is playing an important role in human small cell lung cancer, says Barry Nelkin, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not involved in this research.

“The question, always, with mouse models is whether they can tell you anything about a human disease,” Nelkin says. “Some tell you something, but in others, there may be only a similarity in behavior, and the genetic changes are nothing like what is seen in humans.”

The NFIB gene codes for a transcription factor, meaning it controls the expression of other genes, so researchers in Jacks’ lab are now looking for the genes controlled by NFIB. “If we find what genes NFIB is regulating, that could provide new targets for small cell lung cancer therapy,” Dooley says.

Marta Buczek | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>