Research shows big cause of pancreatic cancer and new treatment

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Pancreatic cancer is known for being one of the toughest types of cancer to treat, with a particularly challenging form called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

This form of cancer has a very low survival rate, with only about 8% of those diagnosed living beyond five years. This grim statistic underscores the urgent need for more effective treatments.

In an exciting development, researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, led by Axel Behrens, have made a crucial discovery that could lead to new ways to treat this deadly disease.

The team focused their study on a specific type of cells found in these tumors, known as cancer stem cells. These cells are notorious for their ability to regenerate and are key contributors to the cancer’s growth and spread.

They are similar to healthy stem cells, which help repair tissue damage, but cancer stem cells use their regenerative power to fuel the disease.

One of the major breakthroughs in this research was the identification of a protein called CD9, which is found on the surface of these cancer stem cells. CD9 is not just a marker; it plays an active role in making the cancer more aggressive.

This protein is involved from the early to the advanced stages of the tumor, signaling the presence of these harmful cells.

The researchers conducted experiments on mice and noticed that reducing CD9 levels in the tumor cells led to the formation of smaller tumors. On the other hand, increasing CD9 levels made the tumors grow faster and larger.

This finding was supported by patient data, which showed that about 10% of patients with high levels of CD9 have a poorer prognosis.

Digging deeper, the scientists discovered that CD9 helps cancer cells absorb more nutrients, specifically glutamine, which is essential for their energy and growth. The more glutamine these cells consume, the faster they grow.

This insight opens up new avenues for treatment strategies aimed at targeting CD9. By interfering with the cancer cells’ nutrient intake, specifically their glutamine absorption, it might be possible to starve the cancer cells and slow their growth.

This approach could significantly improve how we fight pancreatic cancer, offering a new ray of hope where it is desperately needed.

Although turning these discoveries into treatments can be a long and complicated process, each step forward offers the potential to save lives and eventually conquer one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

The journey continues, but with these findings, there is a new beacon of hope for patients facing this severe diagnosis.

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