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Gene May Suppress Lung Cancer

In Lab Tests on Mice, Lung Cancers Were More Common Among Mice Lacking GPRC5A Gene
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 13, 2007 -- Scientists have discovered a gene that may block lung cancer development and make a target for lung cancer treatment.

The gene is called Gprc5a. It's the topic of a new study from researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

They found that mice with one or two copies of that gene had fewer lung tumors than mice with no copies of the gene.

All of those mice developed normally, at first.

But in the mice's second year of life, mice lacking any copies of the Gprc5a gene developed precancerous and cancerous growths at a much higher rate than the other mice.

Reuben Lotan, PhD, and colleagues also studied lung tumors and normal lung tissue in people. In most cases, tumors showed less sign of Gprc5a activity than the normal tissue.

"Gprc5a functions as a tumor suppressor in [the] mouse lung, and human gprc5a may share this property," Lotan's team writes in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

But that doesn't mean that that particular gene makes or breaks lung cancer.

Many genes are involved in lung cancer and environmental hazards -- including cigarette smoke -- worsen the odds, notes editorialist Michael Sporn of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H.

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