New work by researchers in the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins may allow them to halt the smoking-induced cellular events that lead to 99 percent of all small cell lung cancers (SCLC). The research is reported in the March 5, 2003, issue of Nature.
The researchers found that a primitive cellular pathway, called Sonic Hedgehog (named for the cartoon character and spiky hairs it develops on fruit flies) stays turned on long after it should be turned off in some lung cancers.
"We believe chronic injury to the lungs by cigarette smoking re-activates genes in the Hedgehog pathway to repair cell damage in the lining of the lungs. The ongoing and regular assault to the lungs by cigarettes causes the usually dormant pathway to be stuck in activation mode making too many new cells, ultimately resulting in cancer," says Neil Watkins, Ph.D., research associate at the Kimmel Cancer Center and lead author of the study.
Vanessa Wasta | EurekAlert!
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