Singapore: In what could be a breakthrough in detecting lung cancer, scientists have identified a gene responsible for the cancer.

Cancer stem cells or tumor-initiating cells (TIC) are responsible for tumor growth, Xinhua reported quoting the researchers. The scientists found a marker, known as CD166, to identify these cells.

The research team, led by Bing Lim, associate director of cancer stem cell biology at the Genome Institute of Singapore, and Elaine Lim, medical oncologist affiliated with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and National Cancer Centre Singapore, discovered several genes that were important for the growth of cancer cells.

They discovered that in abnormal instances when the level of a metabolic enzyme known as glycine decarboxylase rises significantly, it causes changes in the behaviour of the cell, making it cancerous.

The glycine decarboxylase is a normal occurring enzyme in cells, present in small quantities.

The finding, reported in the online issue of Cell Jan 5, is believed to be a huge step towards finding a cure for the disease.