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The findings, published in Nature on April 17, 2019, show that pancreatic stellate cells -- resident cells typically dormant in normal tissue -- become activated and secrete proteins to form a shell around the tumor in an attempt to wall off and contain it. The activated stellate cells also secrete a signaling protein called LIF, which conveys stimulatory signals to tumor cells to drive pancreatic cancer development and progression. Results also suggest LIF may be a useful biomarker to help diagnose pancreatic cancer more quickly and efficiently.
"There haven't been very many advances in pancreatic cancer therapy because it's a difficult cancer to diagnose and treat," says Salk American Cancer Society Professor Tony Hunter. "Understanding this communication network between the cancer cells and stellate cells may enable us to develop more effective therapies, along with tools for earlier diagnosis."
National - Institutes - Health - NIH - Project
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) project that pancreatic cancer will be the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030. Last year, the NIH reported roughly 55,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer with over 44,000 deaths from the disease.
"Most solid cancers are not caused by abnormality in a single cell type. Instead, the tumor cells live and work cooperatively with surrounding normal cells in the tissue. They can also 'go bad' together as an unholy alliance, which can lead to cancer," says Yu Shi, a postdoctoral fellow at Salk and first author of the paper. "If we can understand how the different types of cells interact with each other within the tumor microenvironment, then we may uncover a good target to eventually cure the disease."
Method - Communication - Stellate - Cells - Cancer
To understand the method of communication between the pancreatic stellate cells and the cancer cells, the researchers first developed cell cultures to analyze the proteins that were being exported from the stellate cells. They suspected...
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