(RxWiki News) While tobacco smoke has been proven to cause cancer, exactly how this occurs is not well understood. Now it looks like two products in tobacco smoke may also make a certain type of lung cancer harder to treat.
Further research into non small cell lung cancer has shown that the along with nicotine, carcinogens in tobacco cause higher levels of a molecule called IKBKE, which causes resistance to chemotherapy, making the disease harder to treat.
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A team from the Moffit Cancer Center in Florida showed that nicotine and a product found in tobacco smoke known as nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone increase levels of a molecule known as STAT3, which in turn increases levels of IKBKE. Tobacco smoke is the driving force behind all of these molecular changes.
This enzyme is an immune response regulator, which means that it can have a long list of effects on cancer. It appears that one of those effects is to alter another regulatory protein known as STAT3.
Understanding the molecular relationships involved may help researchers develop ways to counteract cancer development.
“IKBKE is a newly identified oconogene, a gene linked to cancer,” said study lead author Jin Q. Cheng, Ph.D., M.D., professor of oncology at the University of South Florida.
“In our study, we demonstrated that IKBKE is a STAT 3 target gene and is induced by tobacco. STAT3 is a signaling and transcription gene that is activated in various types of cancer and is required for cell transformation,” Dr. Cheng explained.
One theory by researchers projects that lowering levels of IKBKE in cancer patients may reduce resistance to chemotherapy. So IKBKE could be a good target for future drug development.
The study was published in the journal Oncogene.
Researchers did not disclose any financial relationships.