Research News from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Creating a Better Mouse Model of Lung Cancer
HHMI researchers have genetically engineered mice that have cells that
switch on a cancer-causing gene spontaneously, generating lung and other cancers much like humans do. The scientists believe that the technique for generating the mice will be widely used to model many kinds of human cancers in mice.
The researchers used a "hit-and-run" approach to producing gene alterations in mice whose cells harbor an inactivated form of the K-ras cancer gene.
Mutations in K-ras are highly prevalent in human cancers, occurring in 90 percent of pancreatic tumors, 50 percent of colon tumors and 30 percent of non-small cell lung cancers. Previous mouse models of these forms of cancer have not accurately recapitulated the kind of spontaneous mutations that characterize cancers involving K-ras.
Researchers using the mice will be able to quickly assess the effectiveness of new chemotherapy and chemopreventive strategies for lung cancer. Strategies to prevent lung cancers, which formerly required expensive, long-term clinical trials in humans, can now be tested quite readily using the new mouse strain.
Research published in the April 26, 2001, issue of the journal Nature.
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