Researchers identify possible new target in fight against lung cancer

September 12, 2017
Researchers discovered microRNAs that suppress cancer cell growth. Credit: A.K. Mehta et al., Science Signaling (2017)

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified a molecule called miR-124 in non-small cell lung cancer cells that plays a regulatory role in the cancer cells' fate—determining whether or not the specific subtype of cancer cell will undergo programmed cell death.

The findings, which appear in Science Signaling, may offer a new target in the fight against non-small cell lung cancer.

According to the researchers, the molecule miR-124 causes programmed in a specific subtype of that has undergone a switch known as epithelial to mesenchymal transformation. These mesenchymal-like cells, which have mutations in a cancer gene called KRAS, are typically resistant to the death-inducing effects of chemotherapeutic agents.

By analyzing human lung cancer derived cell lines, the researchers were able to determine the unique profiles of two subtypes of lung cancer cells. Upon comparing biochemical profiles they were able to identify the miR-124 molecule as the major player in the signaling cascade that determines whether or not the specific cell type will live or die.

"Lung cancers display widespread genetic, molecular and phenotypic variability and heterogeneity. It is critical to understand the implications of this heterogeneity to identify effective targeted therapeutic regimens and clinical diagnostics," explained corresponding author Anurag Singh, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and medicine at BUSM. "Understanding the mechanisms that are associated with phenotypic heterogeneity in lung cancer cells—specifically differences between epithelial and mesenchymal-like cells—allows these differences to be exploited to develop more selective therapeutic agents."

Scientists discovered microRNAs that cause growth defects in cancer cells (indicated by red arrows in right panels). Credit: A.K. Mehta et al., Science Signaling (2017)

The researchers hope their discovery leads to pre-clinical and early phase clinical trials to treat non-small cell lung cancer , however additional work must be done to explore this possible therapeutic target.

The American Cancer Society's estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2017 are about 222,500 new cases of lung cancer and about 155,870 deaths from lung . About 80 to 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell .

Explore further: Unique lipid profile could help diagnose and treat lung cancer

More information: "Regulation of autophagy, NF-κB signaling, and cell viability by miR-124 in KRAS mutant mesenchymal-like NSCLC cells," Science Signaling (2017). stke.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi … 26/scisignal.aam6291

Related Stories

Unique lipid profile could help diagnose and treat lung cancer

September 8, 2017
The lipid contents of a fluid that surrounds the lungs in some diseases contains specific fats that could be used as a biomarker to distinguish people with and without lung cancer. It can also identify a subtype of the cancer ...

Mutations unveiled that predispose lung cancers to refractory histologic transformation

June 7, 2017
Cancer pedigree analysis reveals the mutations in RB1 and TP53 genes play a key role in treatment-resistant, cancer cell-type transformation during EGFR inhibitor therapy for lung cancers.

New study proves one lung cancer subtype can switch to another

April 14, 2017
A new study co-authored by a researcher starting her laboratory at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center shows that in certain genetic situations, one non-small cell lung cancer subtype can change into another subtype.

Before a cure, a crusade to stop lung cancer from spreading

November 11, 2016
The American Cancer Society has reported that lung cancer, which kills more Americans than any other type of cancer, is expected result in an estimated 158,080 deaths in 2016.

Researchers discover molecular approach to promote cancer cell death

May 21, 2015
Lung cancer researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered a novel strategy to exploit apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, for the treatment of lung cancer. The protein Bcl-2 is a known ...

Researchers uncover powerful new class of weapons in the war on cancer

October 22, 2014
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have identified small molecules that can represent a new class of anticancer drugs with ...

Recommended for you

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

One in four U.S. seniors with cancer has had it before

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—For a quarter of American seniors, a cancer diagnosis signals the return of an old foe, new research shows.

Combination immunotherapy targets cancer resistance

November 22, 2017
Cancer immunotherapy drugs have had notable but limited success because in many cases, tumors develop resistance to treatment. But researchers at Yale and Stanford have identified an experimental antibody that overcomes this ...

Researchers discover specific tumor environment that triggers cells to metastasize

November 21, 2017
A team of bioengineers and bioinformaticians at the University of California San Diego have discovered how the environment surrounding a tumor can trigger metastatic behavior in cancer cells. Specifically, when tumor cells ...

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.