Researchers explore genetic links between nicotine, cancer using 'next-generation sequencing'

Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute have taken a closer look at the role that nicotine plays in cancer, finding new consequences of nicotine stress on breast tissue and insight into the influence of nicotine on normal cells.

Nicotine is the addictive chemical found in cigarettes, but researchers believe that it could have more influence than previously realized on the underlying genetics of cancer, according to a recently published study in the journal PLOS One. Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals, including nicotine, but nicotine stands out because of its widely accepted connection to cancer, especially lung cancer.

Using next-generation sequencing techniques, Jasmin Bavarva, a research geneticist and lead author of the study, showed more thoroughly how nicotine causes healthy cells to become cancerous and revealed new participation from previously unstudied genes.

Next-generation sequencing allows researchers to see a broad range of gene interactions in ways that supersede standard techniques, such as microarrays.

"The all-inclusive approach of next-generation sequencing is a game-changer, as it allows us to find previously unknown genetic links," Bavarva said.

Knowing how the genes interact can help researchers understand the complex nature of cancer and find treatments, the researchers said.

"The changes seen in cells after exposure to nicotine must make us now realize that nicotine is not just an addicting chemical, but it also is a gene-expression modulator, which may play a direct role in cancer development. We may need to rethink how we use it to treat ," said Harold R. Garner, a professor of , computer science, and basic science affiliated with the College of Science, the College of Engineering, and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, who led the research.

More information: PLoS ONE 8(6): e67252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067252

Related Stories

New molecularly imprinted nicotine receptors

Jul 09, 2013

Researchers from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in Nehru Marg, India have added another piece to the puzzle of how to synthetize an artificial nicotine receptor. Nicotine - the infamous principal ...

Helping ex-smokers resist the urge

Oct 22, 2012

A new inhibitor helps previously nicotine-addicted rats stay on the wagon, according to a study published on October 22nd in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Nicotine does not promote lung cancer growth in mouse models

Apr 04, 2011

Nicotine at doses similar to those found in most nicotine replacements therapies did not increase lung cancer tumor incidence, frequency or size, according to results of a mouse study presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting ...

Recommended for you

Gamers helping in Ebola research

14 hours ago

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus.

Carcinogenic role of a protein in liver decoded

17 hours ago

The human protein EGFR controls cell growth. It has mutated in case of many cancer cells or exists in excessive numbers. For this reason it serves as a point of attack for target-oriented therapies. A study ...

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

Aug 31, 2014

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

User comments