University of Rochester scientists have discovered a gene with a critical link to pancreatic cancer, and further investigation in mice shows that by blocking the gene’s most important function, researchers can slow the disease and extend survival.
Published online by Cell Reports, the finding offers a potential new route to intrude on a cancer that usually strikes quickly, has been stubbornly resistant to targeted therapies, and has a low survival rate. Most recent improvements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, in fact, are the result of using different combinations of older chemotherapy drugs.
The research led by Hartmut
Hucky Land, Ph.D., and Aram F. Hezel, M.D., of UR Medicine's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, identifies a new target in the process of garbage recycling that occurs within the cancer cell called autophagy, which is critical to pancreatic cancer progression and growth.