MSC Lung Cancer Test Offers Fewer False Positives, Early Detection

Low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans are the currently recommended screening method for lung cancer in heavy smokers. However, these scans produce many false positives (identifying suspicious lung nodules when no cancer is actually present), needlessly exposing numerous people to the costs and risks of invasive follow-up procedures. Now, a large study has shown that a simple blood test may complement CT scans to reduce the false positive rate in lung cancer screening. The microRNA signature classifier (MSC) Lung Cancer assay measures the expression levels of several molecules called microRNAs to classify patients as low, intermediate, and high risk. In a trial of over 4,000 current or former smokers, the MSC Lung Cancer assay detected the vast majority of all lung cancers accurately, but produced a low rate of false positives. Moreover, the test detected some cancers up to 2 years before the CT scans.


New Biomarker May Allow Development of Less Invasive Test for Lung Cancer, New Lung Cancer Treatments

MicroRNAs are small molecules that turn down or switch off other genes and influence a wide range of processes in cells throughout the body. Researchers discovered that the microRNA 4423 (miR-4423) is found in higher levels in cells lining the airways of the lungs than in other parts of the body. But, levels of miR-4423 are lower in lung tumors and in otherwise normal-appearing airway cells of people with lung cancer. Because miR-4423 is found on the surface of the airways, measuring miR-4423 levels may serve as a relatively noninvasive test for lung cancer. Adding miR-4423 back inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells in cell cultures and decreased the size of lung cancer tumors implanted into mice. Increasing miR-4423 levels may therefore also form the basis of future lung cancer treatments.


New Clinical Trial Focuses on Cancer Patients Without Known Tumor Mutations

Increasingly, targeted therapies are becoming available for patients whose cancers have mutations in certain ‘driver’ genes that are known to be involved in cancer growth. However, most cancer patients have tumors without these mutations or other changes in their DNA. These patients will be the focus of the new WINTHER clinical trial. The study will compare biopsy samples of the patients’ tumors with healthy tissue samples to see how much they differ. This information, along with examinations of other molecules involved in gene expression called RNA and microRNA, will be used to select the existing cancer treatment most likely to benefit the patient based on a novel scoring system.


New Clinical Trial Focuses on Cancer Patients Without Known Tumor Mutations

Increasingly, targeted therapies are becoming available for patients whose cancers have mutations in certain ‘driver’ genes that are known to be involved in cancer growth. However, most cancer patients have tumors without these mutations or other changes in their DNA. These patients will be the focus of the new WINTHER clinical trial. The study will compare biopsy samples of the patients’ tumors with healthy tissue samples to see how much they differ. This information, along with examinations of other molecules involved in gene expression called RNA and microRNA, will be used to select the existing cancer treatment most likely to benefit the patient based on a novel scoring system.


New Clinical Trial Focuses on Cancer Patients Without Known Tumor Mutations

Increasingly, targeted therapies are becoming available for patients whose cancers have mutations in certain ‘driver’ genes that are known to be involved in cancer growth. However, most cancer patients have tumors without these mutations or other changes in their DNA. These patients will be the focus of the new WINTHER clinical trial. The study will compare biopsy samples of the patients’ tumors with healthy tissue samples to see how much they differ. This information, along with examinations of other molecules involved in gene expression called RNA and microRNA, will be used to select the existing cancer treatment most likely to benefit the patient based on a novel scoring system.


Avastin-Containing Chemotherapy May Be Safe in Lung Cancer Patients with Brain Metastases

Bevacizumab (Avastin), which is approved for treatment of a number of advanced-stage cancer types, is commonly avoided in patients with brain metastases (cancer that has spread to the brain) because of fear of brain hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain). A retrospective study of 52 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had received chemotherapy containing Avastin found no cases of serious bleeding events and no significant differences in survival or treatment side effects between patients with or without brain metastases. Avastin may therefore be a safe treatment option in NSCLC with brain metastases.

Research paper: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/acrt/20/2/20_47/_pdf


Overexpression of IGF1R and EGFR Genes May Worsen Lung Cancer Prognosis

The roles of the genes IGF1R and EGFR in lung cancer were examined in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had their primary tumor surgically removed. Patients whose tumors had increased expression of both IGFR1R and EGFR were more likely to experience recurrence of the cancer after a shorter amount of time and had shorter survival times after surgery. This finding suggests that concurrent overexpression of IGF1R and EGFR is a negative prognosis factor in NSCLC and may indicate patients who are more likely to benefit from novel treatments with IGF1R inhibitors.

Research paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00280-012-2056-y/fulltext.html


Study Suggests Iressa Effective for Elderly Patients with EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancer

A retrospective study in Japan examined 55 patients aged 75 years or over with inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had a mutation in the EGFR gene and received gefitinib (Iressa) as first-line therapy. The treatment was generally well tolerated and patients experienced longer periods without cancer progression (median: 13.8 months) and longer overall survival (median: 29.1 months) than commonly reported for similar patients. While studies using control groups will need to confirm that Iressa is indeed more effective than standard chemotherapy or a placebo, these findings suggest that Iressa may be a preferable first-line treatment in elderly patients with advanced EGFR-mutant NSCLC.

Research paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12032-012-0450-2/fulltext.html


Genetic Variation in P53 May Contribute to Lung Cancer Risk

A study of individuals with and without lung cancer in North India found that those carrying a particular version (or “polymorphism”) of a gene for the protein p53 were more likely to have lung cancer, independent of their age or smoking rate. P53 belongs to a class of proteins called “tumor suppressor proteins,” and is involved in DNA repair, regulating cell growth, and inducing cell death in damaged or abnormal cells. The findings suggest that this version of the p53 gene, called Arg72Pro, may contribute to higher susceptibility for lung cancer, at least in the North Indian population.

Research paper: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/dna.2012.1792