Molecular subtypes and genetic alterations may determine response to lung cancer therapy

May 11, 2012

Cancer therapies targeting specific molecular subtypes of the disease allow physicians to tailor treatment to a patient's individual molecular profile. But scientists are finding that in many types of cancer the molecular subtypes are more varied than previously thought and contain further genetic alterations that can affect a patient's response to therapy.

A UNC-led team of scientists has shown for the first time that lung cancer molecular subtypes correlate with distinct and with patient response to therapy. These findings in pre-clinical models and patient tumor samples build on their previous report of three molecular subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer and refines their molecular analysis of tumors.

Their findings were published in the May 10, 2012 online edition of the One.

Study senior author, Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, says, "It has been known for about a decade of using gene expression arrays that "molecular subtypes" exist. These subtypes have molecular "fingerprints" and frequently have different clinical outcomes. However, the underlying etiologies of the subtypes have not been recognized. Why do tumors form subtypes?

"Our study shows that tumor subtypes have different underlying alterations of DNA as part of the difference. These differences are further evidence of the importance of subtypes and the way we will use them. For example, the mutations are different which may imply much more ability to target than previously recognized. Also, we are starting to get a suggestion that these subtypes may reflect different cells of origin that rely on different cancer pathways. This is further unlocking the diversity of this complex disease." Hayes is a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The team first defined and reported in 2006 on three lung cancer molecular subtypes, named according to their – bronchoid, squamoid and magnoid.

In this PLoS One paper they sought to determine if distinct genetic mutations co-occur with each specific molecular subtypes. They found that specific genetic mutations were associated with each subtype and that these mutations may have independent predictive value for therapeutic response.

Explore further: Different subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer respond to different therapies

Related Stories

Different subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer respond to different therapies

June 27, 2011
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers have identified six subtypes of an aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer, called "triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)."

Genetic differences distinguish stomach cancers, treatment response

August 1, 2011
Stomach cancer is actually two distinct disease variations based on its genetic makeup, and each responds differently to chemotherapy, according to an international team of scientists led by researchers at Duke-National University ...

New research confirms need for lung cancer testing

February 2, 2012
Different kinds of lung cancer behave in different ways, suggesting they are fundamentally different diseases. According to a University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in Cancer, the official journal of the American ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.