New research has found that pancreatic cancer cells rely heavily on a protein to grow and spread. The research results can bring new treatment and prevention strategies for pancreatic cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that up to 61% of patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer can survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis. But some pancreatic cancer subtypes are more aggressive. For example, when diagnosed with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, it is usually already in an advanced stage and its 5-year survival rate is less than 10%. However, new research has identified the main weakness of this aggressive cancer, namely that pancreatic cancer cells are addicted to a key protein. In this new study, Dr. Christopher Vakoc, a professor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and his team discovered a gene that encodes a protein that is particularly highly aggressive in pancreatic cancer. It is a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Vakoc ’s laboratory. Researcher Timothy Somerville is the lead author, and the paper was recently published in the journal Cell Report.
Somerville explained that people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer can live an average of 2 years. However, those with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma have unsatisfactory survival. Researchers from Professor Vakoc’s team hypothesized that a specific protein might cause this cancer to be so aggressive. The researchers further studied the protein TP63 using cultures derived from normal pancreatic tissue or pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The analysis showed that the presence of TP63 in the tumor allowed the cancer cells to grow, multiply and metastasize to other parts of the body. .
Somerville explained that one of the encouraging findings is that cancer cells rely on P63 to continue to grow. Therefore, we are investigating the inhibition of P63 activity as a treatment method for patients. “Therefore, understanding why the P63 gene becomes active in some individuals will produce valuable preventive measures that may be very beneficial for the survival of fragile pancreatic cancer populations.”