SINGAPORE - Singapore scientists have, for the first time, identified a gene responsible for lung cancer.
The finding, reported in the advanced online issue of Cell, is a huge step towards finding a cure for the disease.
The study was headed by Dr Bing Lim, Associate Director of Cancer Stem Cell Biology at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Dr Elaine Lim, medical oncologist affiliated with Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS).
GIS is a research institute under the umbrella of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
A*STAR said a small number of cells, known as cancer stem cells or tumor-initiating cells (TIC), are responsible for the promotion of tumor growth.
The team managed to find a marker which identifies these cells, which in turn lead them to discover several genes vital for the growth of cancer cells.
Additionally, the scientists discovered that in abnormal instances when the level of the metabolic enzyme known as glycine decarboxylase (GLDC) rises significantly, it causes changes in the behavior of the cell, making it cancerous.
GLDC is a normal occurring enzyme in cells, present in small quantities.
Dr Huck Hui Ng, acting executive director of GIS, said the metabolic enzyme GLDC will be a good target for drug development by the pharmaceutical industries.