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Genetics of lung cancer survival

June 29, 2017 | Sanjay Mishra

African-Americans are more likely to die from lung cancer than whites and yet few studies of possible genetic factors that contribute to this disparity have been conducted.

Melinda Aldrich, Ph.D., MPH, and colleagues conducted a first-of-its-kind genome-wide association study of lung cancer survival in 286 African-Americans enrolled in the Southern Community Cohort Study.

Reporting recently in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, they identified a variant in the CMKLR1 gene that was significantly associated with reduced lung cancer mortality in African-Americans. This is contrary to the findings of a prior study in European-Americans that found the variant was associated with increased mortality.

The gene encodes a receptor that plays a role in the immune response to cigarette smoke in mouse models of chronic obstructive lung disease, a lung cancer risk factor.

While this was a small study, further investigations could lead to new treatments that improve lung cancer survival, especially in African-Americans, the researchers concluded.

This research was supported by the Department of Defense (Early Investigator Synergistic Idea Award), the National Institutes of Health (grants CA172294, GM080178, CA060691, CA087895, CA022453) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.