Shedding Light on Possible Individualized Treatment Strategies for Lung Cancer

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) funded a large consortim of medical centers to undertake the most comprehensive effort focused on understanding the genetic changes involved in lung adenocarcinoma. This form of lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer and the number one cause of deaths from cancer. The average 5-year survival rate for this disease is currently roughly 15 percent, but earlier detection methods would increase that rate.

One outcome of this study has been the indentifyication of areas of research for new, more individualized approaches for detecting and treating this form of cancer. NHGRI Acting Director Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., comments, “By harnessing the power of genomic research, this pioneering work has painted the clearest and most complete portrait yet of lung cancer’s molecular complexities. This big picture perspective will help to focus our research vision and speed our efforts to develop new strategies for disarming this common and devastating disease.”

The results dramatically increases the number of genes known to be associated with the lung adenocarcinoma. In a paper published in the Oct. 23 issue of the journal Nature, the Tumor Sequencing Project (TSP) consortium identified 26 genes that are frequently mutated in lung adenocarcinoma. The TSP team also detailed key pathways involved in the disease, and described patterns of genetic mutations among different subgroups of lung cancer patients, including smokers and never-smokers.  This is the critical research that opens up possible new, individualized treatments for the disease.

More than 1 million people worldwide die of lung cancer each year.  The United States has 150,000 deaths in that year time period. Lung adenocarcinoma is the most frequently diagnosed form of lung cancer.

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