US scientists have identified three genes which are involved in 20 per cent of lung cancer cases.
Located next to each other on human chromosome 14, two of the three genes were already known to be instrumental in foetal lung development.
The research revealed that TTF1, NKX2-8, and PAX9 reproduce an early foetal gene expression pattern that leads to cancer tumour growth.
This, the scientists determined, means that the cancerous results of the mutation can probably be reversed. In the future, they hope that this will lead to new treatment options for patients.
Lead investigator David Mu said: "Lung cancer cells in adults can reactivate genes that are normally active in the earliest stages of lung development. We identified the mutation that triggers this abnormal re-activation of developmental genes and showed that if you turn off these genes, you stop the cancer."
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