CHICAGO -- Lung cancer is a formidable disease. While it is one of the most preventable cancers, with the vast majority of 160,000 annual deaths in the United States due to smoking, it is invariably difficult to find early when it is most amenable to treatment. As a result, it remains the top cancer killer in the nation.
But a new test for the early detection of lung cancer that involves measuring levels of a certain protein may provide hope for thousands of smokers worldwide. While the findings are preliminary and involve a small group of subjects, the researchers see their early results as extremely promising.
Results were presented at the first meeting on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, organized by the American Association for Cancer Research.
A team led by Dorothy M. Morre, Ph.D., professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and D. James Morre, Ph.D., distinguished professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue, wanted to come up with a robust lung cancer screening procedure for people who smoke.
"We'd like to have a means of detecting lung cancer early in individuals who smoke with a low incidence of false positives," Dorothy Morre said. "There's apparently no good method of finding this and there is a lot of interest at the National Cancer Institute in developing such a protocol."
The Morres -- along with colleagues at Purdue, NOX Technologies, Inc., also in West Lafayette, and at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York -- focused their efforts on a protein called tNOX, a member of a family of proteins that are involved in cell growth. Normal cells express the NOX enzyme only when they are dividing in response to growth hormone signals. In contrast, cancer cells have gained the ability to express NOX activity at all times. This overactive form of NOX, known as tNOX for tumor-associated NOX has long been assumed to be vital for the growth of cancer cell
Contact: Warren Froelich
American Association for Cancer Research