Nav: Home

Sugars that coat proteins are a possible drug target for pancreatitis

June 20, 2019

Cold Spring Harbor, NY -- Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that accounts for 275,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually. Patients who suffer from hereditary pancreatitis have a 40 to 50 percent lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Dannielle Engle, a former Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Cancer Center postdoctoral fellow who was recently appointed Assistant Professor at Salk Institute, studies the progression of pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer. She has focused on a potentially powerful biomarker, a chemical structure created by complex sugar molecules called CA19-9, since CA19-9 is elevated in patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Now, Engle and her team provide the first evidence that CA19-9 actually causes the disease it was correlated with as a biomarker, and suggest that blocking this complex sugar structure could be used therapeutically to prevent the progression from pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer. Their findings are published in the journal Science.

"This is one of those unique opportunities where prophylactic intervention of pancreatitis may lead to prevention of pancreatic cancer in at-risk patients," Engle said.

In Cancer Center Director David Tuveson's lab at CSHL, Engle investigated the properties of pancreatic cancer. She zeroed in on CA19-9, a complex sugar structure that coats many proteins but had not previously been ascribed with any particular function. A single enzyme controls the final step in production of CA19-9 in humans, but this enzyme is missing in rodents. Engle generated mice that produced CA19-9, and surprisingly noted that the mice developed severe pancreatitis. Engle's findings position CA19-9 as an attractive therapeutic target for pancreatitis.

In mice, CA19-9 recruits the immune system to repair injuries from pancreatitis. Engle found that during this recruitment process, CA19-9 can also induce a cascade of biochemical reactions propelled by the release of deleterious digestive enzymes from the pancreas. This cascade opens a transformational gateway for cancer to develop and Engle also demonstrated that CA19-9 can dramatically accelerate the growth of pancreatic tumors.

"Pancreatitis is required for developing pancreatic cancer, and we might be able to prevent that transition in patients with pancreatitis by targeting CA19-9," posited Engle. "By targeting CA19-9 with antibodies in animal models, we were able to reduce the severity of pancreatitis and even prevent it from occurring."

A pending patent application filed by CSHL covering use of CA19-9 antibodies for the treatment and prevention of pancreatitis has been exclusively licensed to BioNTech, a German-based biotech company.
-end-
About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory's education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit http://www.cshl.edu

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
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.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.