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BUSM researchers identify molecule that could aid lung cancer detection, treatment
Date:10/25/2013

(Boston) Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered a molecule that could help lead to the non-invasive detection of lung cancer as well as its treatment. Using RNA sequencing, the team looked at airway epithelial cells and identified a regulatory molecule that was less abundant in people with lung cancer and inhibits lung cancer cell growth. The findings, which are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that this molecule may aid in diagnosing lung cancer in earlier stages and could potentially, when at healthy levels, aid in treating the disease.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking. The NCI also estimates that approximately 373,489 Americans are living with lung cancer and its treatment costs approximately $10.3 billion in the United States each year.

MicroRNA's are a new class of molecules classified as important regulators of the activity of other genes. In this study, the research team used a next-generation RNA sequencing technology and identified that a microRNA named miR-4423 in epithelial airway cells plays a major role in how these cells develop. In epithelial cells from the airway of smokers with lung cancer, levels of miR-4423 were decreased.

"These results suggest measuring the levels of microRNAs like miR-4423 in cells that line the airway could aid in lung cancer detection through a relatively non-invasive procedure," said Avrum Spira, MD, MSc, the Alexander Graham Bell professor of medicine and chief of the division of computational biomedicine at BUSM, one of the study's senior authors.

Using experimental models in vitro and in vivo, the research team demonstrated that miR-4423 can both promote the
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Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary
jenny.eriksen@bmc.org
617-638-6841
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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