Squamous cell lung cancer is very common and causes about 400,000 deaths every year across the world. However, the genetic alternations present in squamous cell cancers had not been characterized and this was the reason that there were no targeted therapies specific for squamous cell lung cancer. The latest paper published in the journal, Nature, as part of the Cancer Genome Atlas study has managed to comprehensively characterize the genomic nature of squamous cell lung cancer.
The Cancer Genome Atlas study (TCGA) profiled 178 lung squamous cell carcinomas to provide comprehensive information about genomic and epigenomic alternations. The study finds that ‘more than half the tumors have mutations that might be treated by new drugs that are already in the pipeline or that could be easily developed’ as reported in the New York Times. The finding is significant since this opens doors for individualized treatment for squamous cell lung cancer patients.
The published paper has over 300 authors and is part of the Cancer Genome Atlas, a large NIH project that unravels the genomic mysteries of cancer. Squamous cell lung cancer is the second cancer that has been analysed in the Cancer Genome Atlas project. The first was the study of colon cancer.
The recently published study compared cancer squamous cell lung cancer cells from 178 lung cancer patients with normal cells of the patients. Over 60% of the tumor was found to have alterations in genes that code for enzymes which are vulnerable towards new drugs that are on the anvil or those that are already available.
Even though the new study is exciting, there is lot of work to be done prior to putting the finding to clinical use, but definitely, the news is good for all squamous cell lung cancer patients.
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