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Researchers Discover A Protein Responsible For Metastasis In Pancreatic Cancer: Hope For Better Treatment Unveiled

Update Date: Apr 19, 2016 05:36 AM EDT

Researchers discovered in a recent study that a protein in our body plays a key role in the spread of pancreatic cancer to liver. Tens of thousands of people around the world die of metastatic pancreatic cancer every year and the recent findings could be a breakthrough in the intervention of the fatal disease.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) develops from the cell lining of the ducts through which the digestive juices enter into main pancreatic duct. Though cancer is mostly found in the head of the pancreas they can grow just anywhere in the gland.

In most cases the pancreatic tumor could be metastatic and spread frequently to liver. Metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the most fatal pancreatic cancer that kills about 330,000 people around the world every year. There is no effective treatment found to cure or contain the disease till date.

While most of the researches conducted by far studied the role of cancer cells in metastasis, the researchers from the University of Liverpool, led by Dr Michael Schmid from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, focused on the connective tissue cells in pancreas and stromal cells and their role in metastasis.

"A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the metastatic spreading of pancreatic cancer is critical to improve treatment and patient outcome," said Schmid, according to Science Daily.

As a result, the investigators were able to find that stromal cells play a critical role in spreading pancreatic cancer. They also discovered a protein called granulin that acts as a key regulator of metastatic process in pancreatic cancer.

"Our work, which was a collaborative effort among several national and international research teams, provides evidence that pancreatic cancer metastasis critically depends on the support of stromal derived factors such as granulin and periostin, and that targeting these stromal factors may improve the outcome of this devastating disease," Schmid added.

Monocytes, the inflammatory white blood cells, from the protein granulin are found to have an important role in the spread of pancreatic cancer to other organs, said one of the researchers Sebastian Nielsen. By controlling the secretion of granulin in the cells it is possible to cease the cancer from spreading to liver from pancreas, added Nielsen.

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