Cancer is caused by environmental as well as generic factors. One of the leading environmental causes of cancer is smoking tobacco. The interaction between genes and smoking has been concluded to play a significant role in the development of lung cancer.
Yafang Li, PhD, has been leading a team of researchers from Dartmouth in this field. The researchers have recently discovered three new single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Essentially, SNPs are variations in human body’s DNA that are associated with a person’s susceptibility to developing certain diseases such as cancer.
The researchers used phenotype and genotype data from OncoArray Consortium to conduct the study. To improve their analysis, the researchers adopted a two-step strategy in a bid to reduce power often lost through ordinary gene environment interaction analysis.
According to the researchers, the three new SNPs may be used as biomarkers for scientists to use when categorizing individuals’ risks of developing lung cancer as a consequence of one’s genetics interactions with smoking. Overall, the SNPs are expected to improve the prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer in the near future. They may also set pace for research in other common forms of cancer associated with smoking and other environmental risks.
This research is reportedly the largest of its kind, according to Yafang. However, it is important to note that all the participants were of Caucasian origin. Considering that people from different races have variations in their genetic makeup, the results of this research may be largely limited only to the Caucasian population. However, the team of researchers is making plans to conduct similar research on people from other races in a bid to reduce any inconsistencies in findings. What’s more, the researchers promise to improve their findings as they collect more data on gene-smoking interaction.
A report detailing this research was published in the journal Carcinogenesis under the title Genome-wide interaction study of smoking behavior and non-small cell lung cancer risk if Caucasian population.
About Eric Lefkofsky
Eric Lefkofsky is an entrepreneur and philanthropist with an interest in battling cancer. He is the founder of Groupon and a co-founder of Tempus.
Tempus is an upcoming health startup that is focusing on devising better ways to fight cancer. The firm claims to work with scientists and physicians to analyze patients’ genetic code in respect to molecular therapy. By collecting and analyzing genomic data, Tempus hopes to improve precision and personalization in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Tempus is currently on lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer, but plans are underway to study other common types of cancer.
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