Novel biomarker of lung adenocarcinoma in process of unsaturated fatty acid synthesis

Dr. Elaine Lai-Han Leung et al reported a new biomarker specifically and highly expressed in lung adenocarcinoma indicating poor prognosis.


The discovery of Warburg effect opens a new era in anti-cancer therapy. Aerobic glycolysis is regarded as a hallmark of cancer cells and increasing literatures indicates that metabolic changes are critical for the maintenance and progression of cancer cells. Besides aerobic glycolysis, increased fatty acid synthesis is also required for the rapid growth of cancer cells, and is considered as one of the most typical metabolic symbols of cancer either. Thus, targeting fatty acid metabolism may provide a potential avenue for the diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of cancer. This concept was become true by Chair Prof. Liu Liang, Dr. Leung Lai-Han and their team from the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine (Macau University of Science and Technology, MUST) with the cooperation of clinical physician team from Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute. They have identified Sterol-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1) which is the rate-limiting enzyme of unsaturated fatty acid synthesis, universally and highly expressed in lung adenocarcinoma and was required for the cell proliferation, migration and invasion.

They discovered that both in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated high expression of SCD1 remarkably enhancing the ability of tumor formation and invasion, while knockdown of SCD1 significantly repressing tumorigenesis and inducing cell apoptosis. Clinical association study suggested that high expression of SCD1 was more frequently observed in late stage patients and presents poor prognosis.

Taken together, the results suggested that SCD1 could be a potentially novel biomarker of lung adenocarcinoma, and targeting SCD1 may represent a new anti-cancer strategy.

It was the first time to report the association between SCD1 and clinical indicators of lung adenocarcinoma. Our study provided evidences to support the potential role of SCD1 as a biomarker and target for cancer diagnosis and therapy in lung adenocarcinoma. This paper was published by the journal “Oncotarget” on May 12, 2016. The newly released Impact Factor for Oncotarget is 5.16 (Thomson Reuters, 2017).