Researchers develop human cell-based model to study small cell lung cancer
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IMAGE: Lung progenitors (green) form increased numbers of neuroendocrine cells (red) when both the RB gene and the NOTCH signaling pathway are inhibited. view more 

Credit: Chen et al., 2019

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine have used human embryonic stem cells to create a new model system that allows them to study the initiation and progression of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The study, which will be published February 8 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals the distinct roles played by two critical tumor suppressor genes that are commonly mutated in these highly lethal cancers.

SCLC, an extremely aggressive form of lung cancer, is found almost exclusively in smokers and usually becomes resistant within several months to existing treatments, such as chemo- and radiotherapy. Over the last 30 years, little progress has been made in developing new treatments for the disease, causing the US Congress and National Cancer Institute to designate it as a “recalcitrant” cancer.

One reason for the lack of new treatments is the rapid onset and progression of SCLC, making it difficult to obtain clinical samples for researchers to study. Over the past few years, models for studying SCLC have been developed in mice. The

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