Stephen Baylin, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University
Funded by LUNG FORCE
Novel Model Aids Understanding of How Smoking Causes Lung Cancer
We are using a novel model to study how smoking causes lung cancer. Cells chronically exposed to cigarette extract before any lung cancer mutations appear undergo "epigenetic" abnormalities (changes in gene activity that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence) typical of actual lung tumors. These can inactivate otherwise normal genes that block cancer development. We will develop our model using a novel 3-D miniaturized normal lung. We will insert gene mutations frequently found in lung cancers to determine which epigenetically altered genes are most important in making the cells able to form cancer when mutations arise. This research will lead to a system that can be used to study potential therapy strategies.