Lung cancer treatment: Specific gene mutation may be a key

Lung cancer can be both deadly and difficult to treat. Experts’ understanding of lung cancer has significantly expanded in recent years with developing new treatment options being a priority.

As options for specific, targeted treatments emerge, experts are hopeful that the prognosis for people with lung cancer will continue to improve.

In a​ recent study published in Nature Communications, researchers report that targeting components of lipid metabolism and synthesis could lead to an effective lung cancer treatment.

T​here are a few different types of lung cancerTrusted Source with distinct characteristics.

The type of lung cancer someone has helps doctors determine treatment options and predict prognosis. One of the most common types of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Dr. Misty D. Shields, an oncology expert at Indiana University Health, explained to Medical News Today:

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and there are more than 2 million patients diagnosed with lung cancer each year worldwide. Most patients diagnosed with lung cancer have a history of smoking, but ~20% of patients have never smoked in their lifetime.”

Some people with lung cancer have a distinct gene mutation that occurs.

Specifically, mutations in the KRAS gene can happen in people with lung cancer. As the American Lung Association notes, “About 20-25% of lung cancer patients have some kind of KRAS mutation.”

Researchers are still working to understand how KRAS gene mutations impact lung cancer and how to develop targeted treatment optionsTrusted Source.

One area of interest is how the KRAS gene mutation affects fatty acid metabolism.

Researchers in the recent study examined a few different components of lung cancer with the KRAS mutation. First, they said they found that lung cancer with the mutant KRAS gene had a unique lipid profile.

T​hey further reported that lung cancer with the KRAS gene mutation was dependent on a specific enzyme, FASN, that is involved in fatty acid synthesis. Researchers then worked to target this enzyme and its function.

They reported that blocking FASN promoted the death of specific lung cancer cells. For example, FASN inhibitors contributed to ferroptosis, a specific type of cell death.

Ultimately, researchers hope that this data will promote the development of specific targeted lung cancer treatments.

W​hile a bit technical, Shields provided the following summary of the study’s research to MNT:

“The authors demonstrate KRAS mutant NSCLC requires a rate-limiting enzyme, FASN, for lipid metabolism, through the Lands cycle, to cope with oxidative stress and deflect ferroptosis for cancer cell survival. This novel research highlights that targeting fatty acid synthesis with FASN inhibitors may be a promising approach for KRAS mutant NSCLC.”