A Gene Test to Warn Smokers if They're Heading for Cancer
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Washington, DC USA
Scientists may have found a way to tell which smokers are at highest risk of developing lung cancer: measuring a telltale genetic change inside their windpipes.
A test based on the study is being developed in hopes of detecting this deadly cancer earlier, when it’s more treatable. And if the work pans out, the next big question is: Might it even be possible to reverse this genetic chain reaction before it ends in full–blown cancer?
The researchers found a tantalizing early hint among a few people given a drug. “They’re heading toward lung cancer, and we can identify them with this genomic test,” said Avrum Spira of Boston University, who led the study.
Only a fraction of smokers develop lung cancer, and there’s no way to predict who will escape it and who will not. Nor is there a good way to detect early–stage tumors. Consequently, most people are diagnosed too late for today’s treatments to do much good.
In the study, Spira found a genomic signature – a pattern of gene activity – in otherwise normal windpipes that distinguished some current or former smokers who had lung cancer from those who didn’t.
Source: Times of India