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New nanomedicine could prevent progression of pancreatic cancer

Israeli researchers discover survival rates in pancreatic cancer linked to inverse correlation between specific oncogene and tumor suppressant.

(photo courtesy of Blausen.com staff (2014) CC BY 3.0)

A new study published in scientific journal Nature Communications distinguishes the reason for extended pancreatic cancer survival: an inverse correlation between a known oncogene, a gene that promotes the development of cancer, and the expression of an oncosuppressor microRNA. The study may serve as a basis for the development of a medicine that can treat pancreatic and other cancers.

Though 75 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within 12 months of diagnosis, about 7% survive more than five years. “We thought that if we could understand how some people live several years with this most aggressive disease, we might be able to develop a new therapeutic strategy,” said lead researcher Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, chair of physiology and pharmacology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

She worked with Hadas Gibori and Shay Eliyahu, both members of her laboratory, in collaboration with Prof. Eytan Ruppin of TAU’s computer science department and the University of Maryland and Prof. Iris Barshack and Dr. Talia Golan of Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Ramat Gan. Other authors of the paper include two researchers from The Institute for Drug Research in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Pharmacy.

The research team examined pancreatic cancer cells in mouse models and discovered an inverse correlation between the signatures of miR-34a, a tumor suppressant, and PLK1, a known oncogene. The levels of miR-34a were low in pancreatic cancer mouse models, while the levels of the oncogene were high. This correlation made sense for such an aggressive cancer.

RNA profiling and analysis of samples taken by the researchers from pancreatic cancer patients revealed the same genomic pattern in humans as was seen in the mouse models.

This article has been republished with permission by www.ISRAEL21c.org. Click here to continue reading.

Rebecca Stadlen Amir | Israel21C.org

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