Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK, and may soon overtake breast cancer.
Currently, a person with the condition is expected to live just five years, a number that has moved little since 1970, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Its symptoms include stomach pain, a loss of appetite and changes to bowel habits.
The cancer occurs in the organ called the pancreas, near the stomach and liver, which is responsible for regulating the amount of sugar in the blood stream.
A new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, has found a new way to slow the growth and spread of this cancer, offering new hope for treating the condition.
A team of scientists at Imperial College London found that pancreatic cell growth in mice was slowed when the genes responsible for this were removed.
This was done using the cutting-edge CRISPR technique, which can remove genes from cells.
The team hopes that this could help them find a way to stop stroma development around cancerous cells, a hard ‘armour’ that makes treatment difficult.
“If in the future this ‘armour’ could be weakened in people with the disease, it could mean that chemotherapy could reach tumours more effectively, in turn allowing patients to live for longer,” they said in a statement.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr Leandro Castellano said, “sadly by the time people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, all too often the disease has spread to other organs and treatment is not very effective, because the stroma makes it so difficult for treatment to reach the tumour and fight the disease.”
“It is therefore vital that new ways are discovered to slow down the growth and spread of this disease, and also to improve the effectiveness of treatment.”
“Our research was a great success as we made progress towards tackling both these problems.
“We are very much looking forward to taking this important work to the next stage.”
Responding to the announcement, Leanne Reynold, Head of Research at Pancreatic Cancer UK said, “We are incredibly proud to have funded this cutting edge research, which has not only found a crucial new way of slowing down the growth and spread of this tough cancer, but is also paving the way for more effective chemotherapy treatment for patients in the future.
“The potential positive impact which these results could have on patients’ lives in years to come is significant.
“If future research is successful, Dr Castellano’s results could lead to many pancreatic cancer patients living longer and having more previous time with their families.”
Pancreatic Cacner UK funded the research through a £69,000 grant from its Research Innovation Fund scheme.
Published at Thu, 10 May 2018 13:36:00 +0000