A recent work published in the scientific journal Cell Death & Disease It describes how a gene signature is linked to the poor prognosis of survival in non-small cell lung cancer patients. In it, researchers from CIBER de Cáncer (CIBERONC), led by Carlos Camps of the University General Hospital of Valencia, explain how this work has allowed us to detect different genes that are expressed in tumor stem cells and that would be associated with resistance to Chemotherapy, invasion and aggressiveness in this type of cancer.
Specifically, CIBERONC researchers focused on studying the population of cancer stem cells from the samples of 134 non-small cell lung cancer patients, with the aim of identifying genes and molecules that could have a prognostic role in the evolution or constitute the basis for new therapies directed to these cells.
To do this, they performed three-dimensional cultures, called tumors, for enrichment in tumor stem cells. When studying these tumors derived from the patient's cells, the researchers found that they showed great tumorigenic potential and invasion capacity, and were very resistant to high doses of chemotherapeutic agents.
Thus, the researchers found in these tumor spheres a greater expression of different genes that encode enzymes related to cell protection, pluripotency inducers, cell cycle regulators and genes related to metastasis. Among them, the use of a mathematical algorithm allowed to focus the research in the study on six specific genes (CDKN1A, NOTCH3, CD44, ITGA6, NANOG and SNAI1).
Development of new therapeutic strategies
Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, with a 15 percent survival rate at 5 years of diagnosis. 85 percent of patients diagnosed are classified as non-small cell lung cancer and 75 percent are diagnosed in advanced stages, when surgery is not possible.
In recent years, significant advances have been made in the development of therapies for these patients, but many still develop resistance to treatment. In this sense, the development of new therapeutic strategies against molecules related to these genes could have important implications for patient survival.
Thus, after the investigation, the researchers created a score that combines the expression of these three genes, with which a gene signature was made, which turned out to be an independent prognostic biomarker of survival for patients with lung cancer, especially for those with adenocarcinoma. Thus, the proposed score may help in future clinical practice, since patients with high values in this score may need adjuvant treatment and should be followed closely after surgery.