DNA-scanning technology finds possible sites of cancer genes in chromosomes of lung cancer cell

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In a study in the July 1, 2005 issue of the journal Cancer Research, the researchers used single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array technology to identify regions of chromosomes where genes were either left out or multiplied over and over – mistakes that are often associated with cancer. In this effort, SNP arrays have been used to find gene-copy errors in lung cancer cells.

“The current study demonstrates that high-resolution SNP technology is powerful enough to identify copy-number alterations that previously hadn’t been found in lung cancer cells,” says the study’s senior author, Matthew Meyerson, M.D., Ph.D., of Dana-Farber.

Working with lung cancer tissue and laboratory-grown lines of lung cancer cells, the investigators used high-resolution machinery to scan the cells’ chromosomes. They found several areas that had already been identified as having copy-number errors, plus five new ones – two where genes had been deleted, and three where they had been over-copied.

The next step will be to identify the specific genes involved in these alterations. There is increasing evidence that therapies aimed at specific gene abnormalities can be effective in treating cancer.

“We’ll need to characterize the genes in these regions in detail to understand their role and whether they are cancer-causing or cancer-preventing genes,” Meyerson points out.