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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 05/26/99
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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UC Receives New Grant to Find Lung Cancer Gene

Cincinnati—The Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and The Barrett Cancer Center have received a five-year, $5.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to determine if specific genes may increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer. This national study will take place in Cincinnati and seven other medical research institutions in the US.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the US and worldwide," states Marshall Anderson, PhD, director of UC's Department of Environmental Health and principal investigator of the study. In 1998, about 160,000 people in the US died from lung cancer compared to 140,000 deaths from colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined, and it is estimated that more than 1.3 million people worldwide will die from lung cancer in the year 2000.

According to Anderson, recent research has shown that certain families have a cluster of lung cancer cases and that this increased risk is passed from one blood relative to another. These findings provide strong evidence for the existence of one or more familial lung cancer genes, which in the mutant form causes significantly increased risk for the development of lung cancer.

This study will attempt to develop extensive family trees and collect blood and tissue samples for genotyping from 80 to 100 families that have at least three close relatives with lung cancer. A laboratory and statistical genetic procedure, called linkage analysis, will help identify chromosomal regions and subsequently, the gene or genes for lung cancer. Similar studies have identified genes that predispose families to breast and colon cancers.

"The identification of lung cancer genes will have a significant impact on public health," says Anderson. "It will allow for targeted efforts in smoking prevention initiatives, smoking cessation programs, and avoidance of passive smoke and other environmental exposures. Furthermore, it may play a major role in the design and implementation of preventative medication trials to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer and could lead to the development of new therapies for the treatment of this disease."

"This type of translational research grant involving multiple cancer centers is very important to the development of a comprehensive cancer center at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center," says Kenneth Foon, MD, director of The Barrett Cancer Center. "This study is possible with the cooperative community effort of Oncology Hematology Care, Incorporated, area hospitals, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the entire medical community, which will be play an active role in patient recruitment and biospecimen collection."

Along with UC, the study will involve researchers at John Hopkins University, the Medical College of Ohio, the University of Colorado Health Science Center, Karmanos Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Southwestern, and the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Other local researchers who will be working on this study include Anderson, John Winkelmann, MD, division director of hematology-oncology, UC College of Medicine; Fred Lucas, MD, director of pathology, The Christ Hospital; Susan Pinney, PhD, associate professor, and Jonathan Wiest, PhD, assistant professor, UC's Department of Environmental Health; and Mark Malloy, Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Families in which two or more relatives have been diagnosed with lung cancer can call 513-584-4028 or 513-584-3120 to participate in the Family Lung Cancer Study.

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