Lung cancer patients who have never smoked are more likely than smokers to harbor one of two genetic mutations that researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have now linked to the disease.
"This study describes the first known mutation to occur in lung cancer patients who have never smoked," said Dr. Adi Gazdar, professor of pathology in the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and senior author of the study in todays issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "These findings may help explain why certain lung cancer patients respond dramatically to a specific form of targeted therapy while others have little or no response."
Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are present mainly in adenocarcinomas, the most common form of lung cancer found in smokers and non-smokers, as well in women and people under 45. These mutations have shown increased sensitivity to gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva), drugs targeting the gene.
Mutations in the KRAS gene – a gene in the EGFR signaling pathway – were found in 8 percent of lung cancers but in none with the EGFR mutation. This mutation was more common in males, Caucasians, and current or former smokers.
As a result, it appears that two distinct molecular pathways are involved in formation of lung cancer, Dr. Gazdar said. The pathway in smokers involves KRAS gene mutations, while the pathway in people who never smoked involves EGFR gene mutations. The next step is to move these findings toward development of better treatments for lung cancer, said Dr. Gazdar.
He and Dr. John Minna, director of the W.A. "Tex" and Deborah Moncrief Jr. Center for Cancer Genetics and the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and a contributing author, have established eight lung cancer cell lines that harbor several types of EGFR mutations and are now establishing another line from a patient who relapsed after initially responding well to the gefitinib drug. "These lines will prove invaluable in understanding both the response to gefitinib and erlotinib and the mechanisms by which resistance eventually develops," Dr. Gazdar said. "The cell lines may help identify strategies to overcome this drug resistance that eventually develops in most responders."
A related study in the current issue of Cancer Research with Dr. Gazdar and his colleagues found that mutations in EGFR and HER2, another gene in the EGFR pathway that is associated with certain cancers, targeted the same patient subpopulations. The discovery that HER2 also is a mutation occurring mainly in tumors of people who never smoked suggests different pathways may be involved in lung cancer formation in smokers and nonsmokers. "Our work is very important because if you have a mutation in the EGFR gene in the tumor, a patient likely will have a dramatic response to a relatively nontoxic once-daily oral therapy," Dr. Minna said.
"The research has found these tumors can vary by several thousandfold on how sensitive they are to a drug," said Dr. Minna. "We also have been able to identify in advance a pattern of gene expression that tells whether a tumor is going to be resistant or sensitive to a particular drug. We want to be capable of examining a patients tumor, profile each human gene and then select the best current therapy." Dr. Minna and Dr. Jonathan Dowell, assistant professor of internal medicine, contributed to an editorial in the Feb. 24 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine commenting on a study headed by Dan Farber Cancer Research Center. Researchers there found a lung cancer that initially was very sensitive to gefitinib because of a mutation in the EGFR gene developed resistance to the drug because of a second EGFR mutation.
The enhanced understanding of EGFR and these mutations reported in the NEJM study will allow new drugs to be designed to combat these drug-resistant receptors, enabling effective second-line therapy to then be directed at the same target, Dr. Minna wrote.
Scott Maier | EurekAlert!
Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy