(RxWiki News) Magical mystery tour. That's what the painstaking process of locating genetic mutations could be called, and biologists may have landed at a critically important new destination.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used a new technique called whole-gene profiling to pinpoint a gene that appears to be responsible for the growth and spread of small cell lung cancer. This discovery may lead to new drugs that target and kill the gene.
"Knowing the source of a deadly lung cancer may lead to new therapies."
The research team led by Alison Dooley, Ph.D. of MIT found this particular gene in both mouse and human tumors. For the study, the team took out two genes that usually suppress tumor growth.
Using whole-genome profiling they found extra copies of parts of DNA, including a single gene called Nuclear Factor I/B or NFIB. This gene has never been seen to play a role in lung cancer, though animal studies have suggested it may be involved in prostate cancer.
While the gene's exact function is not fully understood, it is known to develop lung cells, and controls the expression of other genes.
Dooley says that finding which genes NFIB controls could lead to new targeted therapies for this deadly form of lung cancer.
Findings from this study are published in Genes and Development.
Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive form of the disease that makes up about 15 percent of all lung cancer cases. The disease kills roughly 95 percent of its victims within five years of diagnosis.