In the September 9, 2012 early online edition of Nature, scientists with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) report that they have characterized the lung squamous cell carcinoma genome.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of lung cancer, a disease that kills more Americans than any other type of cancer.
The national team of scientists examined tumor samples from 178 patients with untreated lung squamous cell carcinoma and completed genetic analysis of the tumors, work that paves the way for developing better, more targeted therapies to treat the cancer.
Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, a UNC investigator with TCGA, explains, "The work confirms the prevalence of commonly known cancer genes such as p53 and p16 in LSCC: alteration of p53 in patients is approaching 100 percent while 70-80 percent of patients have clear alterations of p16. Our report documents a long list of mutations that could be targeted therapeutically, some even now with drugs currently available or in clinical trials."
Dr. Hayes served as co-chair of the manuscript writing committee for the paper. With Matthew Wilkerson, PhD, he served as genomic analysis leader and mRNA sequence analysis. Dr. Hayes is an associate professor of medicine.
He says, "UNC scientists generated all of the microarray and sequencing data on RNA and provided technical expertise in analyzing it. Analyzing gene expression data is very challenging, and UNC brought a large number of collaborators in computer science, statistics, and genetics to help.
"We and all TCGA scientists worked closely together on all aspects of this work," he explains. "Participating institutions provided high-quality tumor samples for the analysis. The study required a wide range of technical expertise to perform all the assays, and no one center could have done it all. "