Taipei: Researchers have identified a biomarker that detects the most common lung cancer in its earliest stage.
The scientists believe that the discovery could help increase survival of lung cancer patients.
According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer kills about 158,000 Americans each year -- as many as the next four most deadly cancers combined. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about 85 percent of all lung cancers.
"When NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) is detected early, patients have a 70 percent chance of being alive five years later. When NSCLC is detected at an advanced stage, five-year survival drops to less than 10 percent," said senior investigator Pei-Jung Lu, professor of medicine at National Cheng-Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan.
The researchers tested Huntingtin interaction protein-1 (HIP1) as a potential new biomarker.
They also investigated its role in lung cancer progression and spread or metastasis, the cause of most lung cancer deaths.
In addition to serving as a biomarker, HIP1 represses the mobility of lung cancer cells in laboratory studies and suppresses metastasis in a mouse model of the cancer, the researchers found.
The researchers began by examining lung tissue from 121 patients. They found that those in the earliest stages of the diseases expressed more HIP1 than those in the later stages of the disease.
They also found a significant correlation between those patients who expressed higher levels of HIP1 and longer survival.
"If we can restore HIP1 levels and functions, we may be able to stop or prevent human lung cancer metastasis in the early stage," Lu said.
The findings appeared in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine.