Issels Integrative Immuno-Oncology February 8, 2018  

Lung Cancer Cells May be Primed for Cancer through Smoking

Dear Friend,

The link between cigarette smoking and increased risk of lung cancer is well-established. Recent studies are giving researchers more insight into the causes of the connection as well as possible methods of treatment.

What Causes Genetic Abnormalities?

Gene behavior is driven by DNA code, but it can also be affected by other external factors. These events, such as those brought on by exposure to cigarette smoke, are known as epigenetic changes.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore grew human bronchial cells, the same type that line airways in the lungs, and bathed them daily with a liquid form of cigarette smoke. This procedure went on for 15 months, making it the equivalent of smoking one to two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 to 30 years.

How Smoking "Primes" Cells for DNA Damage

After only 10 days, the smoke-exposed cells sustained more DNA damage than unexposed cells. Over the next three months, the exposed cells showed a significant increase in EZH2, which is a hormone that silences genes.

EZH2 is also a precursor to methylation, in which tiny methyl groups are added to the start of a gene's DNA code. As a result, tumor suppression genes are silenced and thereby unable to prevent the uncontrolled cell growth of cancer. Smokers who quit show a lower level of methylation, which can decrease their risk of cancer.

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Lung Cancer Cells May be Primed for Cancer through Smoking

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Lung Cancer Is the Deadliest Cancer of All

Approximately 14 percent of new cancer cases are lung cancer, but it makes up a disproportionate 26 percent of cancer deaths. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, that averages out to 427 deaths from lung cancer each day in America, which is more than the number of deaths from breast, prostate and colon cancer combined.

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More Medications Focus On Immunotherapy to Combat Lung Cancer

One drug manufacturer made a bold but risky move by going all-in on their pair of immuno-oncology drugs (IO) designed to treat lung cancer. The combo turned out to be a major failure, which seemed to spell doom for the company. However the lead drug in their IO duo has proven to be more successful in treating patients with mid-stage lung cancer.

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Videos – What Do Patients Say About Their Experience?

Watch videos of patients who share their own experiences at the Issels clinics with you. Listen to their stories and cancer journeys.

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