(HealthDay News) – Expression of genes associated with progression toward lung cancer is significantly increased in the large airway epithelium of healthy smokers; and high-throughput methodology can be used to investigate genetic mutations, using small amounts of DNA from non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) circulating tumor cells (CTCs), according to two studies presented at the AACR-IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer: Biology, Therapy, and Personalized Medicine, held from January 8 to 11 in San Diego.

Renat Shaykhiev, MD, PhD, from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues investigated whether expression of genes associated with progression toward lung cancer (features of molecular cancerization) could be detected in the airway epithelium of a subset of healthy smokers and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Samples were obtained by bronchoscopic brushings and analyzed. Significantly higher expression of cancerization genes was seen in the large airway epithelium of smokers versus nonsmokers. In the small airway epithelium, there was higher expression of these genes in patients with COPD, but not in smokers.

Heidi S. Erickson, PhD, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues developed a high-throughput method for detecting mutations in oncogenes and chemotherapy-resistance genes in NSCLC CTC specimens, which requires very little DNA. The researchers were able to confirm mutational status in NSCLC cell lines with known mutational status, and in unamplified and amplified CTC cell equivalents.

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“We have developed an extremely sensitive test that could be able to detect mutations present in CTCs, and we are hoping that from their characterization, we would be able to understand diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive markers,” Erickson said in a statement.

Abstract – Shaykhiev
Abstract – Erickson
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