Professor Sir Bruce Ponder of the University of Cambridge and Professor Robert Rintoul from Royal Papworth Hospital worked alongside Professor Zvi Livneh and Dr. Tamar Paz-Elizur on the study, which was titled “DNA-Repair Biomarker for Lung Cancer Risk and its Correlation with Airway Cells Gene Expression”.
The study found that patients “DNA repair scores”, through which cells are known to respond to genetic damage, can “significantly improve current lung cancer risk prediction, assisting prevention and early detection”.
150 British patients with lung cancer and 143 healthy volunteers had their DNA repair scores calculated and the team found that the scores of those with lung cancer was lower than the control group. This lead to the understanding that the enzymatic activity is a “robust biomarker for lung cancer risk – independent of smoking”.
The results, the Weizmann Institute said, validated their previous study published in 2014 that examined DNA repair scores in an Israeli population, “showing that the new approach could potentially be implemented to promote more effective lung cancer screening worldwide”.
A low DNA repair score may also help explain why some non-smokers who are normally not referred for preventative screening develop lung cancer.
In their current study, the British-Israeli team also found that a low DNA repair score in lung cancer patients, but not in healthy people, “correlates with a broad increase in gene expression pathways that mediate the body’s immune response”.
“This indicates that DNA repair score data – as revealed in a blood test – could potentially contribute to personalised therapy, by helping doctors predict how individual lung cancer patients will respond to immunotherapy”, the Weizmann Institute indicated.
Lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and early detection is vital to dramatically improve survival rates.