April 13, 2011 Bar Harbor, Maine -- A new two-year, $429,933 grant from the National Cancer Institute will allow a Jackson Laboratory research scientist to explore a promising new approach to studying lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and nearly half of all lung tumors are classified as adenocarcinomas. According to Julie Wells, Ph.D., a Jackson Laboratory research scientist, "Pulmonary adenocarcinoma has a high mortality rate, due in part to the high frequency of metastasis to the other lung and distant sites within the body."
Wells, who works in the laboratory of Professor Carol Bult, Ph.D., is investigating how certain small molecules called microRNAs are involved in the progression of pulmonary adenocarcinoma.
"MicroRNAs function by regulating the expression of target genes," Wells explains, "and each microRNA can potentially regulate the expression of hundreds of different target genes. Previous studies using both mouse models and human cell lines have shown great promise for using microRNA based therapies to treat lung cancer."
However, Wells notes, "microRNA based therapies are limited by a lack of knowledge about which genes are targeted for regulation by individual microRNAs. To overcome this limitation, we are developing a new approach to identify direct interactions between microRNAs and target genes during progression from early-stage to late-stage pulmonary adenocarcinoma in mice."
The Jackson Laboratory is a nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.
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