Israeli scientists make important lung cancer discovery

September 04, 2003

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is one of six emails I am sending today, detailing recent "human interest" stories from Israel. [You will not usually receive so many emails in a single week. Next week I am away and there will be no dispatches.]

I attach a story from yesterday's Independent (of London) newspaper, titled "Gene link to lung cancer could lead to early blood test."

SUMMARY OF ARTICLE

A gene associated with an elevated risk of lung cancer has been discovered by Israeli scientists, led by Professor Zvi Livneh of the Weizmann Institute. In response to the finding, scientists hope that a simple blood test may be available within three to four years to determine the likelihood that an individual will have the disease.

Extra note -

The Independent is one of the most anti-Israel newspapers in Europe (and the only British daily quality newspaper edited by a Jew). Among their multi-award-winning team of vehemently anti-Israel Middle East reporters is Robert Fisk. Many of the Independent's commentators and columnists believe that Israeli scientists and academics should be shunned and boycotted by the rest of the world, a point not mentioned in this story.

It is often the case that newspapers provide the nationality of a team of scientists who make a breakthrough, early in the story, or in the headline. Here the Independent scrupulously avoids saying "Israeli scientists" in its headline or opening paragraph.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLE

GENE LINK TO LUNG CANCER COULD LEAD TO EARLY BLOOD TEST

Gene link to lung cancer could lead to early blood test
By Danielle Demetriou
The Independent
September 3, 2003

A gene associated with an elevated risk of lung cancer has been discovered by scientists.

Smokers who carry a particular DNA formation are ten times more likely to contract the disease than others, while non-smokers with the formation are also more at risk, researchers say.

In response to the finding, scientists hope that a simple blood test may be available within three to four years to determine the likelihood that an individual will have the disease. The researchers, led by Professor Zvi Livneh, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, studied the link between genetic formations and lung cancer. They found that individuals had varying abilities in terms of mechanisms to repair smoke-related damage to DNA.

A smoker with the weaker gene was more than 200 times as likely to suffer from lung cancer as a non-smoker with good genetic formation. Non-smokers with poor DNA repair mechanisms were more than 13 times more likely to contract the disease.

A blood test would be able to reveal the extent to which a person was able to repair DNA, thus determining the risk of contracting the disease, according to the report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Professor Livneh said that the vast proportion of the 33,000 annual deaths from lung cancer were caused by a combination of smoking and poor DNA repair mechanisms. He suggested that a blood test could become a valuable tool in the deterring people from smoking.

"My vision is that people could be screened using our test and warned if they had a high risk," he told The Times today.

"What is really striking is the extra risk you get from poor DNA repair. When I talk to doctors, they say that general warnings about smoking aren't taken seriously.

"People don't think it applies to them, But if you added something really personal, like saying that a person's risk was 100 times higher, then you have a much more effective way of persuading them to give up."

Scientists examined levels of OGG, an enzyme that acts as a repair mechanism, in 68 patients with lung cancer and 68 healthy people. They were then able to devise a test to measure the level of OGG activity from a blood sample.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.