Professor Sam Janes, UCL

The results of a ten year study into the origins of lung cancer funded by Rosetrees Trust and other partners has been published in Nature Medicine. The research, led by Professor Sam Janes at UCL investigated precancerous lung lesions found in the airway. Of these half will actually become lung cancer, while others will disappear or remain benign without becoming harmful. Under the microscope, the lesions look the same, making it difficult to know which lesions to treat.

Professor Janes and his team have for the first time, discovered the differences between the lesions that will become invasive and those that are harmless, and they can accurately predict which lesions will become cancerous.

“Our study helps to understand the earliest stages of lung cancer development, by figuring out what’s going on inside these cells even before they become cancerous,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Sam Janes (UCL Division of Medicine and University College London Hospitals, UCLH).

“Using this information, we may be able to develop screening tests, and new treatments that could stop cancer in its tracks.”

“We are now continuing our research to further understand how these genes are driving cancer progression, and to see which ones could be targeted by new drug treatments,” said co-first author Dr Vitor Teixeira (UCL Division of Medicine).

The study involved researchers at UCL Division of Medicine, UCL Cancer Insititute, UCLH, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Boston University, The Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and University of St Andrews, and was supported by Wellcome, Rosetrees Trust, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Welton Trust, Garfield Weston Trust, Stoneygate Trust, UCLH Charitable Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Stand Up to Cancer, and the University College London Hospitals National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre.