Recent research in Clinical Cancer Research reports finding an enzyme that plays a role in vitamin D metabolism and can predict lung cancer survival. Comparing the enzyme in subjects with lung adenocarcinoma with those with normal lungs the levels of the enzyme, CYP24A1, was as much as 50 times higher in the lung cancer patients. In addition, the higher the levels of the enzyme, the more likely the tumors were aggressive.
In their sample, about one third of the lung cancer patients had high levels of the enzyme and after 5 years this group had about half the survival rate as the subjects with low levels of the enzyme.
They found that the enzyme, CYP24A1. interacts with calcitrol, the active form of vitamin D, by breaking down calcitrol that has an active role in cancer protection when the enzyme is kept in check, but when levels of the enzyme climbs, it hinders the positive anticancer effect of vitamin D.
Because half of all lung cancers recur following surgery researchers are interested in finding ways to prevent or delay this recurrence. Finding drugs to block the action of the enzyme might allow the positive anticancer effect of the vitamin D to prevent recurrence.
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