Scientists find cause of pancreatic cancer and make a breakthrough in treatment

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), an extremely aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, has long been a formidable challenge for medical professionals, with a dismal five-year survival rate of just 8%.

Currently, there’s no effective treatment, but a recent study conducted by scientists at the Francis Crick Institute suggests a promising new direction for future therapies.

The Power of Cancer Stem Cells

The research team, led by Axel Behrens, focused on a specific group of cells within the tumor known as cancer stem cells.

Just like healthy human stem cells can repair tissues and organs, these cancers stem cells have the unique ability to initiate new tumors and evolve into different types of tumor cells.

As they drive cancer growth, the detection of these cells is crucial for the development of effective treatments.

Identifying CD9: A New Marker for Cancer Stem Cells

In their study, published in Nature Cell Biology, the researchers discovered that a protein known as CD9 is consistently present on the surface of cancer stem cells during the early and later stages of tumor growth.

This could potentially serve as a marker for locating these cells.

CD9: Not Just a Marker, But a Promoter

The study further revealed that CD9 is not merely a passive marker, but it actively encourages the malignant behavior of cancer stem cells.

By manipulating the levels of CD9 in tumor cells in mice, the researchers found that reducing CD9 levels led to the formation of smaller tumors.

On the other hand, increasing CD9 levels resulted in cancer cells becoming more aggressive, leading to the rapid formation of large tumors.

This observation aligns with existing clinical data, which shows that patients with higher levels of CD9 in their tumor cells typically have a poorer prognosis.

Approximately 10% of patients with this form of cancer have elevated CD9 levels.

The Role of CD9 in Cancer Cell Metabolism

Digging deeper into the role of CD9, the team explored its impact on cancer stem cell metabolism.

They found that CD9 enhances the rate at which cells absorb glutamine, an amino acid that fuels the growth of cancer.

Future Implications: Starving Cancer to Death

This discovery suggests that future treatments could be developed to target CD9, thereby interrupting the supply of glutamine to cancer stem cells.

Essentially, this would starve cancer, potentially providing a significant advancement in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Such treatments could save many lives in the future, giving hope to those afflicted with this devastating disease.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about dry shampoo and cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.

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