Scientists discover how to potentially ‘stop spread of pancreatic cancer’

28 May 2014

Switching off a key protein in pancreatic cells slows the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, according to a new study from Cancer Research UK.

The findings provide new insights into how elevated levels of fascin help cancer penetrate the tightly packed cells lining the abdomen.

Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to treat, compared to other forms of the disease, as patients don’t usually display symptoms until it has spread. Survival still remains low, with only four per cent surviving for more than five years.

Dr Laura Machesky, lead author of the study, commented: “We know fascin is overactive in many cancers, but this is the first time we’ve been able to show that tumours lacking this protein are less able to develop and spread. 

“What’s more, we found pancreatic cancer patients with elevated fascin levels were more prone to the cancer coming back and tended to succumb to the disease more quickly.”

Scientists believe that developing drugs that block the protein could potentially stop the spread of the disease, but further research needs to be done to test this theory.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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