Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers in Lung Cancer

Surgery is currently the best option for treating lung cancer; however, less than 20% of patients with lung cancer are diagnosed in the early stages, when surgery is a potential treatment option. In other patients, when the disease is detected later, the alternative treatment currently available is more aggressive (chemotherapy, radiation therapy) and less effective. The use of molecular markers may make it possible to detect lung cancer in the early stages, which would help improve patient survival. These markers can be combined with imaging detection techniques, such as computed axial tomography, to increase their specificity. Furthermore, molecular characterization of the small lesions detected by means of imaging may help us understand the biology of the nodules found in screening programs. These markers could also be used to select high-risk populations, which would considerably reduce the cost of imaging-based cancer-screening programs.
To this end, our group works basically on developing strategies for early detection of lung cancer based on the molecular changes that take place throughout the carcinogenesis process. To achieve this goal, our research is carried out on two levels:

  1. Basic studies, in which we characterize the molecular changes in lung-cancer carcinogenesis in order to identify potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers.

  2. Translational studies, in which we evaluate the candidate biomarkers in clinical samples and attempt to develop the right diagnostic and prognostic tools to allow them to be used in clinical practice.

The following are some of the projects currently being carried out in the laboratory:

  • Study of the molecular mechanisms used by malignant lung cells to avoid activating the complement system.

  • Changes in the processing of RNA associated with neoplastic transformation, and development of splicing microarrays to identify new molecular markers for lung cancer.

  • Standardization and validation of molecular biomarkers in the context of early detection of lung cancer.

  • Development of specific prognostic histology signatures based on protein-expression profiles.

  • Application of genomic and cytogenetic techniques in the detection of lung cancer.


Dr. Luis Montuenga.

More information:


Marisol Ripa
Avda. Pío XII, 55
31008 Pamplona

(+34) 948 194 700 Ext. 1010