There’s a type of pancreatic cancer called Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). It’s very aggressive, meaning it grows and spreads very quickly.
Currently, there are no really effective ways to treat it. Sadly, only 8% of patients survive for more than five years after they are diagnosed.
The Hunt for New Treatments
But here’s some hopeful news. Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute might have found a new way to attack this cancer. They recently published their findings in a scientific journal called Nature Cell Biology.
These scientists, led by a person named Axel Behrens, focused on special cancer cells known as cancer stem cells.
Like healthy human stem cells that repair our tissues and organs, cancer stem cells can start new tumors and transform into different types of tumor cells.
Understanding these cells can help us develop new ways to fight cancer.
The CD9 Protein: A Clue and a Target
When the scientists studied the genes in these cancer stem cells, they found a protein called CD9.
This protein was present on the surface of the stem cells, whether the tumor was just beginning or well-established.
That’s important because this protein could act as a “marker” to help identify these cancer stem cells.
But the CD9 protein is more than just a marker. The scientists found out that it also helps cancer stem cells to behave in harmful ways.
The scientists experimented with changing the amount of CD9 in tumor cells in mice. When they reduced the CD9 levels, the tumors that formed were smaller.
On the other hand, increasing CD9 made the cancer cells more aggressive, and large tumors formed quickly.
They also found out from existing clinical data that patients with higher levels of CD9 in their tumor cells tend to have a worse outlook. About 10% of people with this type of cancer have high levels of CD9.
How CD9 Boosts Cancer Growth
To understand how CD9 helps cancer, scientists studied how cancer stem cells use nutrients.
They discovered that CD9 increases how fast cells take in a nutrient called glutamine. This nutrient gives energy to the cancer, helping it to grow.
The Future of Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
This finding gives scientists a new target in their fight against pancreatic cancer. They could develop new treatments that target the CD9 protein.
Such treatments might be able to cut off the supply of glutamine to cancer stem cells. It’s like starving cancer.
These treatments could potentially save many lives in the future, making them a big step forward in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
If you care about cancer, please read studies about how to reduce pancreatic cancer spread by nearly 90%, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes
For more information about health, please see recent studies about new way to increase the longevity of cancer survivors, and results showing vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.
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