A study funded by the Lustgarten Foundation, the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research in America, has shown promising results. The scientists are hopeful that their work could lead to new forms of treatment. To read about this news in more detail, you can view the Lustgarten’s original press release here.
About Pancreatic Cancer
The pancreas is a large gland that is part of the body’s digestive system. Pancreatic cancer can develop when cells in the pancreas begin to uncontrollably proliferate. Many people who develop this form of cancer are over 75 years old, and it’s unusual for the disease to affect people below the age of 40. Sadly, pancreatic cancer is often detected at an advanced stage, when treatment may be more challenging. New treatments are urgently needed to provide better options to people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The Lustgarten-Funded Research
A research team, led by Dr Tuveson, have found that certain drugs targeting cellular pathways may be able to affect cells in the stroma, causing them to fight, rather than support, the cancer. According to their article, the stroma is a dense protective layer that forms around cancers that may prevent anti-cancer drugs from reaching their targets. Stromas form a particularly large proportion of pancreatic cancers, estimated to be up to 90% of the solid tumour. Finding new drugs that can get around the stroma may help patients.
When studying the stroma, the scientists reportedly found that pancreatic tumour stromas contain at least two forms of fibroblasts (a type of cell in the stroma that creates connective tissue). One of the forms helps tumours to grow, but the other form appears to restrict tumour growth. Crucially, the researchers say that it may be possible to convert the first form of fibroblasts to the second. The scientists are planning to continue investigating these exciting early-stage findings.