UK scientists identify gene that protects against lung cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have identified a gene that helps to protect the body against lung cancer.

The researchers analysed tumour samples from patients with lung cancer and compared them with healthy lung tissue.

They found that a tumour suppressor gene called LIMD1 was missing in the majority of lung cancer samples, suggesting that this gene plays a role in protecting the body against the disease.

Meanwhile, a collaborating team in the US, led by Dr Greg Longmore, carried out tests on mice which lacked the LIMD1 gene and confirmed that loss of the gene was associated with the development of lung cancer.

Dr Tyson Sharp, lead researcher at the University of Nottingham, revealed that LIMD1 is located on a region of chromosome 3 called 3p21.

"Chromosome 3p21 is often deleted very early on in the development of lung cancer due to the toxic chemicals in cigarettes, which implies that inactivation of LIMD1 could be a particularly important event in early stages of lung cancer development," he said.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and could pave the way for new treatments and screening techniques to improve the diagnosis of lung cancer.

Dr Sharp added: "We are now going to extend these finding by developing LIMD1 as a novel prognostic tool for detection of early stage lung cancer."

Ed Yong, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, commented: "This study fills in another piece of the lung cancer puzzle.

"Now we know that LIMD1 is one of an elite group of genes that defend our cells against changes that could lead to cancer.

"Without its protection, cells become more vulnerable to cancer-causing chemicals, such as those found in cigarette smoke."

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