According to a recent discovery, the terrible disease could be identified earlier, which will also improve lifespan prognosis for patients.
A new potential treatment for lung cancer could also translate into an early detection of the illness, new study shows. The research conducted on mice found that a substance that activates the TLR2 protein could reduce tumour development in the early stages of this specific type of cancer, as well as improve the five-year survival rate with as much as 50 per cent.
The animal study was led by a team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh and funded by Cancer Research UK, the Ministry of Science and Innovation of the Government of Spain and the US National Institute of Aging.
According to the experts, the TLR2 protein plays a crucial role related to senescence and specific defence mechanisms that are triggered when the body is attacked by various diseases, cancer included.
After determining the significance of TLR2, the researchers analysed data from human tumour samples to establish that individuals with high levels of the protein in the early stages of the disease outlived those with lower levels. Next, they used a substance known to activate TLR2 in a lung cancer animal model and discovered that the medication inhibited the development of new tumours.
The so-called “senescent cells”, appearing in early-stage lung cancers only, were found to be capable of preventing cancer progression, so once detected doctors will also be able to diagnose lung cancer earlier, this way improving the patient’s overall outcome and increasing his chances of long-term survival.
Dr. Fraser Millar, Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburg, commented about the breakthrough:
“I think these results are really exciting. Very little is known about the biology of early lung cancer and by understanding this process more we have identified a possible new treatment for this devastating disease. This project highlights the value of basic science research and how this can be translated into new treatments for patients.”
Doctors anticipate that the promising results will spur future research as part of a dedicated screening program enabling an early diagnosis of lung malignancy.
The new study, recently published in Cell Reports, is the result of a partnership between the University of Edinburgh, University College London, University of Cantabria, the Spanish National Research Council and the Mayo Clinic in the USA.
However, further clinical testing is needed in order to determine if the treatment can be used in humans or not.