A protein that drives growth of pancreatic cancer, and which could be a target for new treatments, has been identified by researchers at the Crick.
The study, published in Nature Cell Biology, looked into the most common type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. This is an aggressive cancer that develops from secretory and tubular cells of the pancreas.
There are no effective therapies to treat this cancer and only 8% of patients survive beyond five years after diagnosis.
The researchers analysed a specific group of tumour cells, called cancer stem cells. Similar to how healthy human stem cells repair tissues and organs, these cells have the ability to start new tumours and they can also differentiate into different types of tumour cells.
As these cells are a driving force behind cancer growth, being able to identify if they are present is an important step towards the development of new treatments. By analyzing the gene expression of these cancer stem cells, the