Biotech Updates

Singapore Scientists Identify Gene for Lung Cancer

January 13, 2012

Scientists from Singapore have finally identified the gene responsible for lung cancer, a breakthrough in the field of medicine because it is a step forward towards finding a cure for the deleterious disease.

The team of scientists who discovered the gene was headed by Dr. Bing Lim, Associate Director of Cancer Stem Cell Biology at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). The team was successful in finding a molecular marker (CD166) that can be used to identify cancer stem cells or tumor-initiating cells (TIC). Through the use of the marker, they did a genomic study of the TICs, and found a number of genes involved in the growth of cancer cells. They also discovered that when the level of a certain metabolic enzyme increases, the cells become cancerous.

The manuscript from Dr Bing Lim's laboratory provides a very exciting breakthrough about the unique metabolism of tumor initiating cells" said Dr Lewis Cantley of Harvard Medical School. "This study builds on recent observations that a subset of cancer cells have enhanced serine/glycine metabolism. Importantly it shows that the enzyme glycine decarboxylase, which contributes to nucleotide synthesis, is elevated in lung tumor initiating cells and that it is critical for the ability of these cells to form tumors in vivo. Since glycine decarboxylase does not appear to be generally required for the growth of normal adult tissues, these results raise the possibility that this enzyme could be a target for cancer therapy."

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