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New targets in lung cancer fight

New targets in lung cancer fight

A form of lung cancer that kills 400,000 people annually worldwide could be attacked by targeting newly discovered genetic mutations, according to a study that mapped the tumours’ DNA.

Researchers found mutations in 11 genes from 178 squamous cell lung tumours they sequenced, including alterations previously linked to cancer growth, according to the study, published in the journal Nature. The findings also included variations in a gene, called HLA-A, that helps the immune system fight off irregular tissue in the body.

The study of squamous cell lung tumours found 90% had an altered TP53 gene and 72% had an inactive CDKN2A gene, both previously identified mutations, the study said. When these genes are switched off, cancer can grow uncontrollably.

The data is part of a broader project by the National Institutes of Health, US, called the Cancer Genome Atlas, which is analysing tumours and blood samples from 20 types of cancer.

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