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Protein key to growth of pancreatic cancer
Date:9/28/2010

The protein could provide a target to develop new treatments for the disease or enable earlier diagnosis, say the researchers from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers due to its lack of symptoms in the early stages, late diagnosis and its resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The research funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund found that nearly three quarters of pancreatic cancer tumours had high levels of a protein known as P110γ. In laboratory experiments, when production of this protein was blocked, the cancer cells stopped growing. The findings are published online today (28 September 2010) in Clinical Cancer Research.

"It is a striking number of patients who present with high levels of P110γ," says Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Marco Falasca, who led the research. "The fact that P110γ is needed for pancreatic cancer cells to grow shows that it is likely to have a critical role in the progression of the disease, which makes it a potential target for developing new treatments."

The team discovered the link with P110γ by screening both normal and cancerous pancreatic tissue for particular proteins linked to cell proliferation. Up to half of all cancers are linked to a member of one family of these proteins called Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase (PI3K) and the team wanted to see if a link could be made with pancreatic cancer.

Results from the screening show that high levels of P110γ were seen in 72 percent of the cancerous tissue while none could be found in the normal corresponding tissue. And when the researchers blocked production of the P110γ protein, the cancer cells stopped growing. Blocking other members of the same family had no effect, demonstrating a key role for P110γ in the progression of the disease.

"We also found that P110γ is present at high levels in
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Contact: Patrick Carpenter
p.r.carpenter@qmul.ac.uk
44-020-782-23004
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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