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Research progress on revealing the relationship between the environment and the development of cancer

Date: Oct 12, 2023

The occurrence of cancer is influenced by various environmental and lifestyle factors. Currently, it is known that exposure to heavy metals increases the risk of cancer. However, the mechanisms by which heavy metal elements promote the occurrence and progression of cancer are still unclear. This study included 54 cases of lung adenocarcinoma and 37 cases of colorectal cancer patients. Blood plasma and corresponding tumor tissue samples were collected. High-depth Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data for 1123 cancer-related genes were analyzed. Using the Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression (BKMR) model, this study revealed a strong correlation between integrated exposure to five toxic heavy metal elements and the number of somatic mutations. Additionally, the study found a significant association between established mutation signatures in the COSMIC database and the overall exposure to these five toxic metal elements. Different levels of exposure corresponded to significant changes in mutational landscape, and some high-frequency mutated genes showed a significant correlation with element concentrations.

This study has unveiled the connection between toxic heavy metal exposure and mutations in cancer-related genes, providing new insights for exploring the mechanisms underlying cancer development. The research findings have been published online in the Journal of Hazardous Materials (Impact Factor: 13.6, CAS journal ranking Q1). The first author of the paper is Dr. Liu Mengyuan, postdoctoral fellow from the Department of High Performance Computing Technology and Application Development (HPC). The co-supervisor and corresponding author is Research Professor Niu Beifang from HPC. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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[1]. Mengyuan Liu, Yuting Hong, Xiaohong Duan , Qiming Zhou, Jing Chen, Siyao Liu, Junyan Su, Li Han, Jiali Zhang, Beifang Niu#. Unveiling the metal mutation nexus: Exploring the genomic impacts of heavy metal exposure in lung adenocarcinoma and colorectal cancer. (2023). Journal of Hazardous Materials, 461: 132590.