Predicted for greatness: 1994 molecule of the year--the DNA repair enzyme.
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Lung cancer mortality is the highest of any cancer. Primary prevention has stalled, however, new lung cancer screening trials of low-dose computerized tomography (LDCT) have shown that the mortality from lung cancer can be reduced by up to 20% among current and former smokers. There are potential harms that must be taken into account when evaluating any screening program. With LDCT, there is a 90% rate of false positives and the potential for high doses of radiation from subsequent workup of benign lesions. The development of biomarkers that might refine the ability of screening to identify individuals at high risk for developing and dying from lung cancer is a ripe area for investigation. Sevilya and colleagues have developed a highly promising set of biomarkers of DNA repair capacity that may satisfy that goal. The large estimate of risk, the thoughtful combination of functional assays of DNA repair capacity, and the population-based design of the study make it reasonable to test these biomarkers in a larger study.