Researchers from the Molecular Pathology research group at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca (IBSAL), led by Mª Dolores Ludeña, professor at the University of Salamanca (USAL) and belonging to the Pathological Anatomy Service of the University Clinical Hospital of Salamanca, have identified new genetic alterations in squamous lung cancer, the most common subtype among smokers, associated with the prognosis and treatment of the disease.

According to Dr. Luis Miguel Chinchilla Tábora, specialist in Anatomical Pathology and author of the publication, “in the case of lung cancer, specifically in the subtype of adenocarcinomas, several chromosomal, genetic and molecular alterations have been identified, known as biomarkers, which help us to predict the response to treatment, as well as to know the patient’s prognosis. However, in the subtype of squamous cell carcinomas, the most frequent subtype among smokers, advances have not been as successful, mainly due to the absence of clinical or genetic biomarkers that help us to predict the evolution of the disease and therefore in making therapeutic decisions”.

Similarly, Dr. Jose María Sayagués, Molecular Biologist of the National Health System (SNS), IBSAL scientist and associate professor at the USAL, who has actively participated in the research, stresses that “in early stages, lung cancer can be treated satisfactorily with surgery, but if the tumour infiltrates the pulmonary pleura (visceral) and/or amplification of the EGFR gene (located in the chromosomal region 7p11. 2) after surgical resection of the neoplasm, the patient’s prognosis is significantly poor”.

The use of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) techniques for the study of these alterations would be the ideal method according to the study, as it is an economical and routinely used methodology.

Thanks to this research, a new therapeutic door is opened for those patients with lung cancer who not only present mutations in EGFR but also those who present alterations in the number of copies.

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