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Protein May Fight Lung Cancers

Naturally occurring HLJ1 suppresses malignancy, study finds

THURSDAY, June 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A naturally occurring protein called HLJ1 may slow down or even stop the progression of tumors in non-small-cell lung cancer, a new study finds.

Non-small-cell lung cancers comprise about 85 percent of lung malignancies, according to the American Cancer Society.

The new study included 71 patients diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer. Researchers at National Taiwan University analyzed levels of HLJ1 in the patients' cancer cells, as well as the reaction of those cells to exposure to the protein.

They found that when HLJ1 was increased or eliminated in lung cancer cells, differences emerged in terms of tumor proliferation.

If the cell received increased exposure to the protein, the tumor experienced a decrease in cell division, as well as slower movement to other cells. This suggests that the protein may be a natural tumor-suppressor, the team concluded in the June 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In some cases, HLJ1 appeared to prevent the cancer cells from reproducing at all, they said.

The researchers also noted that in 55 of the patients studied, the cancer cells contained far lower concentrations of HLJ1 than non-cancerous cells. Patients whose tumors were exposed to high concentrations of HLJ1 maintained higher survival rates and lower rates of cancer reappearance.

"These findings may identify a subgroup of non-small-cell lung cancer patients who may benefit from adjuvant therapy and facilitate the design of individualized therapies for lung cancer," the study authors wrote in a prepared statement.

In a related editorial, Adriana Albini and Ulrich Pfeffer of the National Cancer Research Institute in Genova, Italy, said the finding "will further stimulate scrutiny of the (proteins in the same family as HLJ1) and put cancer invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis back on the list of functions inhibited by oncosuppressor genes in lung and perhaps other organs."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more information on non-small-cell lung cancer.

SOURCES: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, June 20, 2006
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