A previously unknown effect of an infectious agent relevant to the
prevention and/or treatment of lung cancer has been discovered by a
UMDNJ research team led by Melissa Rogers, Ph.D., professor of
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
infectious agent, mycoplasma bacterium, induces the synthesis of an
important growth factor, BMP2, in lung cells. After enough time,
mycoplasma can convert normal lung cells into cells that form tumors.
BMP2 may accelerate this process. With the help of a two-year grant for
$120,000 from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research and a Team
Science Initiative Grant from UMDNJ, Dr. Rogers and her collaborator,
Dr. John Langenfeld of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, are
working to understand the relationship between bacterial infection and
BMP2 in lung tumors.
The relevance of this study stems from the
fact that mycoplasma is a curable bacteria. “If we think mycoplasma is
promoting tumors, especially in lung cancer, then we should be curing
it.” said Rogers. “Even though doctors don’t normally look at
mycoplasma as a pathogen, it may be a tumor promoter.
linkage of mycoplasma infection to BMP2 induction suggests that
antimycoplasma treatment may benefit lung cancer patients,” said
Rogers. “Furthermore, understanding how BMP2, a potent regulator of
cell behavior is regulated in normal and transformed lung cells may
identify novel chemotherapy approaches.”
Lung cancer is the
leading cause of cancer deaths in the country. Research indicates more
people will die from lung cancer than breast, colon, and prostate
Rogers believes this study will lay the
groundwork for examining whether high risk patients should be screened
and treated for mycoplasma infections to prevent lung cancer and
whether lung cancer patients should be treated with antibiotics to
eradicate mycoplasma infection.
The University of Medicine and
Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation’s largest free-standing
public health sciences university with more than 5,600 students
attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a
graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related
professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health
on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient
visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark,
New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ
operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and
University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and
addiction services network.