Pancreatic cancer research by scientists of Sanford-Burnham, UC San Diego and Purdue University has received a major breakthrough with the discovery of a treatment that can turn cancer cells into normal cells.
A protein called E47 can be introduced to the cancer cells, turning them back to normal. The E47 binds with the DNA, with the collaboration controlling the cells responsible for the growth and differentiation. The possibility of coaxing the cancer cells will provide a ray of hope to patients with the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is responsible for the loss of over 40,000 lives in the USA every year. In most cases, the cancer is detected in later stages, and the average survival period post-diagnosis is 6 months.
Pamela Itkin-Ansari, PHD, adjunct professor in Sanford-Burnham, said, “For the first time, we have shown that over-expression of a single gene can reduce the tumor-promoting potential of pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells and reprogram them toward their original cell type. Thus, pancreatic cancer cells retain a genetic memory which we hope to exploit.”
The pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell lines developed by experts will make the body produce higher levels of E47 that will make the cells undergo G0/G1 growth phase.
The study was conducted on mice, and the capacity to generate tumor has greatly decreased. The next step for the researchers will be to try the same on primary patient-derived tumor tissues and to find if it is equally effective or not. Itkin-Ansari mentioned, “Additionally, we are screening for molecules—potential drugs—that can induce over-expression of E47.”
The pancreatic cancer research breakthrough is believed to be a noble therapy against pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is the most common form of pancreatic cancer. The common symptoms of the disease are abdominal pain, jaundice and weight loss, which are often detected in advanced stages.