Researchers at The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network have identified genetic mutations in the cell signaling pathway RTK/RAS/RAF that can lead to lung adenocarcinoma, the most common subtype of lung cancer. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI and the findings were reported in the journal Nature.

In the study, 230 previously untreated lung adenocarcinoma samples were evaluated and included all major histologic types of lung adenocarcinoma (5% lepidic, 33% acinar, 9% papillary, 14% micropapillary, 25% solid, 4% invasive mucinous, 0.4% colloid, and 8% unclassifiable adenocarcinoma). In 62% of the samples, oncogenes mutations that would increase RTK/RAS/RAF pathway activity were identified; amplification of 2 additional oncogenes that are part of the RTK/RAS/RAF pathway (ERBB2 and MET) were also detected. This amplification usually leads to an increased expression of the encoded protein in cells.

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Overall, researchers have identified an actionable genetic mutation in over 75% of patients with lung adenocarcinoma. These results provide a greater understanding of genetic pathways that can lead to lung cancers and can assist in seeking improved pathway inhibitors for optimal patient outcomes.

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