Nearly 10% of all cancer cases diagnosed in Australia are lung cancer. While some of these are due to smoking and air pollutants, many lung cancer cases are either genetic, or caused by the building material asbestos. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma (the type of tumour caused by asbestos) in the world and unfortunately currently there is no cure.
In order to try find effective treatments for this terrible disease the first step of the project is carrying out ‘genome sequencing’ on patient lung cell samples. This is hoping to identify potential gene alterations – the ‘driver’ genes that cause mutations in the lung and lead to the development of mesothelioma and associated malignant tumours. This will help to answer, if there is a particular type of genetic change due to asbestos exposure and if this knowledge can be used to develop an early predictive test for mesothelioma.
The information gained will lead to part two of the project; personalising lung cancer treatments for patients based off their genetics. We know that treatment for any type of lung cancer is just that, a treatment to keep the symptoms and side effects of the disease at bay. Unfortunately, there is currently no “cure”, but Professor Rayleen Bowman’s team hope to change this by developing a new method that will allow for highly personalised treatment based on the results of gained in early testing.
This research is an exciting step forward in looking for a treatment and cure for this terrible yet all too common condition.
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