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Biomarker for lung cancer risk

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Spring

Contents

A genetic variation could explain why some people have a greater risk of developing lung cancer, Yale scientists reported in the journal Cancer Research in October.

“Only 10 percent of smokers will develop lung cancer in their lifetime, and genetic testing to determine the population of smokers who are most predisposed to develop the disease is needed to help guide better evaluation for these people,” said Joanne B. Weidhaas, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale. She was senior author of the study, in collaboration with Frank Slack, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

“We looked for the effects of genetic variations within a human oncogene known to be affected by tiny RNA molecules called micro-RNAs,” said Slack, explaining their discovery of the biomarker. These variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, predicted a significant increase in non-small-cell lung cancer risk in people with a moderate smoking history as well as in nonsmokers.