Nav: Home

What makes pancreatic cancer so aggressive?

April 18, 2017

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive tumour types because it starts forming metastases early. The cancer itself, however, is usually only discovered late. This leads to a high patient mortality rate. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered why pancreatic cancer and other malignant types of tumours can disseminate so rapidly. The results have now been published in the renowned journal Nature Cell Biology.

The FAU researchers led by Prof. Dr Thomas Brabletz and Dr. Marc Stemmler of the Chair of Experimental Medicine I, with the cooperation of the Department of Medicine 5 - Haematology and Oncology, the Department of Surgery at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, and the Chair of Genetics at the Faculty of Sciences, have discovered that this aggressive type of tumour activates the key factor of an embryonic programme. This factor, called Zeb1, controls how cells migrate and survive in early embryonic development. Zeb1 is blocked in normal, fully developed cells. But when the factor is re-activated in cancer cells, it has fatal consequences: The tumour cells disseminate throughout the body and quickly adapt to the changing conditions in their new environment. They can then develop into metastases and form secondary tumours. The cancer assumes an aggressive progression.

If, however, Zeb1 is not activated, cancer cells can no longer adapt to their new environment so easily. This in turn leads to the development of a variant of pancreatic cancer which presents significantly lower metastatic capacity. This mechanism is also observed in other tumours, such as aggressive forms of breast cancer. The researchers now hope these findings will help them to develop new treatment strategies for combating metastases of pancreatic cancer and other aggressive tumour types.
-end-
Original publication:

Angela M. Krebs, Julia Mitschke, Maria Lasierra Losada, Otto Schmalhofer, Melanie Boerries, Hauke Busch, Martin Boettcher, Dimitrios Mougiakakos, Winfried Reichardt, Peter Bronsert, Valerie G. Brunton, Thomas H. Winkler, Simone Brabletz, Marc P. Stemmler and Thomas Brabletz. The EMT activator ZEB1 is a key factor for cellular plasticity and promotes metastasis in pancreatic cancer. Nat Cell Biol, DOI 10.1038/ncb3513 (2017).

Comment:

M. A. Nieto. News and Views: Context-specific roles of EMT programmes in cancer cell dissemination. Nat Cell Biol, Vol 19 (May 2017).

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Related Cancer Articles:

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...