Today, we add to our growing library containing valuable information about various aspects of pancreatic cancer. In this post, we review the latest pancreatic cancer advances.
“Time Machine”: The Latest Pancreatic Cancer Advances
A “time machine” shows how to reverse the cancer before it spreads through the pancreas. “These findings open the possibility of designing a new gene therapy or drug. Because, we convert cancerous cells back into their normal state,” says Bumsoo Han, program leader of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.
The time machine Han’s lab built is a lifelike reproduction of a pancreatic structure called the acinus. Which produces and secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine. PC tends to develop from chronic inflammation. That happens when a mutation causes digestive enzymes to digest the pancreas.
We need to find a way to go back in time to reprogram the cancerous acinar cells producing those enzymes. Then, it may be possible to reset the pancreas.
For a decade, Stephen Konieczny, professor emeritus at Purdue, studied a potential reset button. A gene called PTF1a. “The PTF1a gene is critical for normal pancreas development. If you lack the PTF1a gene, you don’t develop a pancreas. “When we turn the PTF1a gene back on in a pancreatic cancer cell, what happens? Will we revert the cancer phenotype? Indeed, that’s exactly what happens.”
Konieczny collaborated with Han’s lab to take these findings in molecular biology studies to the next level. By testing them in a realistic model of the acinus — the time machine. See their findings in the journal Lab on a Chip.
It can take months for pancreatic cancer to develop in an animal. Having a way to study cancer development and treatment concepts in a microenvironment saves time. And gives researchers more control over the model. This model overcomes a major challenge in accurately capturing the anatomical complexity of the acinus, a circular cavity lined with cells.
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