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Lung cancer tumours in smokers contain 10 times more genetic mutations

Published on 14/09/2012

Smokers who have lung cancer have 10 times more genetic mutations in tumours than non-smokers with the disease, according to new research.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine studied around 3,700 mutations in 17 patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease.

Writing in the journal Cell, they found that lung cancer tumours in smokers have 10 times more genetic mutations than tumours in those who don’t smoke. Senior author Richard K. Wilson, PhD, director of The Genome Institute at Washington University, said:

"None of us were surprised that the genomes of smokers had more mutations than the genomes of never-smokers with lung cancer. But it was surprising to see 10-fold more mutations. It does reinforce the old message - don't smoke."

The researchers also discovered that in each non-smoker there was at least one mutated gene that is able to be treated with drugs currently available for other diseases or through clinical trials.

In all of the patients they found 54 mutated genes linked with existing drugs. Scientists hope that they are laying the groundwork for more effective personalised treatment of lung cancers.

Richard K Wilson said: "For example, if genome sequencing revealed that a lung cancer patient has a mutation known to be sensitive to a drug that works in breast tumours with the same genetic alteration, you may want to use that agent in those lung cancer patients, ideally as part of a clinical trial."

"In the coming years, we hope to be treating cancer based more on the altered genetic make-up of the tumour than by the tissue of origin."

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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