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Mayo Clinic researchers find oncogene is important in pancreatic cancer growth and spread
Date:2/23/2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida have found that PKC-iota (PKC), an oncogene important in colon and lung cancers, is over-produced in pancreatic cancer and is linked to poor patient survival. They also found that genetically inhibiting PKC in laboratory animals led to a significant decrease in pancreatic tumor growth and spread.

The discovery, reported in the March 1 issue of Cancer Research, is especially encouraging, they say, because an experimental agent that targets PKC is already being tested in patients at Mayo Clinic.

"This is the first study to establish a role for PKC in growth of pancreatic cancer, so it is exciting to know that an agent already exists that targets PKC which we can now try in preclinical studies," says the study's senior investigator, Nicole Murray, Ph.D., of the Department of Cancer Biology.

The drug, aurothiomalate, is being tested in a phase I clinical trial in patients with lung cancer at Mayo Clinic's sites in Minnesota and Arizona. Based on findings to date, a phase II clinical trial is being planned to combine aurothiomalate with agents targeted at other molecules involved in cancer growth.

Mayo Clinic researchers, led by Alan Fields, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and a co-author of this report, discovered aurothiomalate in 2006 by screening thousands of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs for their ability to inhibit PKC signaling. The drug was once used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Murray stressed that this new study has not tested aurothiomalate against pancreatic cancer yet, but any treatment that targets this major cancer pathway offers a new avenue for therapy. "This is such a deadly disease. No standard treatment has shown much promise," she says. "New ideas and fresh, targeted therapies such as this are sorely needed."

Mayo researchers have le
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Contact: Paul Scotti
scotti.paul@mayo.edu
904-953-2299
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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