Key Factor for Pancreatic Cancer Aggressiveness Identified
News Apr 20, 2017 | Original story from University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Histopathogic image of pancreatic adenocarcinoma arising in the pancreas head region. Another view of the same case presented as File:Pancreas_adenocarcinoma_(1)_Case_01.jpg. H & E stain. Credit: user:KGH
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 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.
This article has been republished from materials provided by University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Krebs, A. M., Mitschke, J., Losada, M. L., Schmalhofer, O., Boerries, M., Busch, H., . . . Brabletz, T. (2017). The EMT-activator Zeb1 is a key factor for cell plasticity and promotes metastasis in pancreatic cancer. Nature Cell Biology. doi:10.1038/ncb3513
Analytical Tool Predicts Disease-Causing GenesNews
Predicting genes that can cause disease due to the production of truncated or altered proteins that take on a new or different function, rather than those that lose their function, is now possible thanks to an international team of researchers that has developed a new analytical tool to effectively and efficiently predict such candidate genes.
Single Gene Change in Gut Bacteria Alters Host MetabolismNews
Scientists have found that deleting a single gene in a particular strain of gut bacteria causes changes in metabolism and reduced weight gain in mice. The research provides an important step towards understanding how the microbiome – the bacteria that live in our body – affects metabolism.READ MORE
High Fruit and Veg Consumption May Reduce Breast Cancer RiskNews
Women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.READ MORE