Fresh hope for patients with cancer of pancreas
A NEW discovery may offer a glimmer of hope to patients with one of the deadliest cancers, research has shown.
Scientists have identified a previously unknown faulty gene that appears to play a key role in some aggressive forms of pancreatic cancer.
But studies suggest the defect could be fixed using experimental drugs which have already shown promise in lung cancer.
The gene, called USP9x, could be affected in around one in seven pancreatic cancers.
Research on human cell lines and mice have shown that the gene is switched off by chemical “tags” on the surface of its DNA.
Lead scientist Professor David Tuveson, from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute, said: “Drugs which strip away these tags are already showing promise in lung cancer and this study suggests they could also be effective in treating up to 15 per cent of pancreatic cancers.”
The research is reported in the latest online edition of the journal Nature.
Pancreatic cancer kills around 8,000 people in the UK each year. Although survival rates are improving, fewer than one in five patients survive more than a year after diagnosis.
The scientists screened a mouse version of pancreatic cancer for genes that sped up cancer growth. They uncovered many genes already known to be involved in the disease. But surprisingly, the most common gene fault was one with no previous links to any cancer type.
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