Pancreatic cancer’s ‘achilles heel’ discovered

2 May 2014

Inhibiting a particular protein can completely halt the spread of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study from Georgetown University Medical Centre.

Every year, around 8,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. As it is difficult to detect and treat, prognosis is poor. The only way to cure the condition is to surgically remove the tumour, but this is only possible in 15 to 20 per cent of cases.

The new research demonstrated that suppressing the Yap-associated protein (Yap) could not prevent the disease from developing, but it could halt any further growth.

Chunling Yi, the study’s senior investigator, commented: "We believe this is the true achilles heel of pancreatic cancer, because knocking out Yap crushes this really aggressive cancer. This appears to be the critical switch that promotes cancer growth and progression."

She added that as Yap is over-expressed in other forms of cancer researchers have already begun work on small molecule drugs that will inhibit the activity of the protein and its partnering molecules.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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