New research gives hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer

New research gives hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most common form of pancreatic cancer, is the third most common cause of death from cancer in the United States and the fifth most common in the United Kingdom. Deaths from PDAC outnumber those from breast cancer despite the significant difference in incidence rates.

Late diagnosis and ineffective treatments are the most important reasons for these bleak statistics.

PDAC is an aggressive and difficult malignancy to treat. Until now, the only chance for cure is the complete surgical removing of the tumor. Unfortunately, because PDAC is usually asymptomatic, by the time it is diagnosed 80% to 90% of patients have disease that is surgically incurable. PDAC thus remains one of the main biomedical challenges today due to its low survival rate – just 5% of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.

However, in recent decades a number of studies have shed light on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of PDAC. Our recent research has shown that progress toward a cure is possible.

Ineffective treatments

The molecular mechanisms responsible for pancreatic cancer are complex. This is why recent advances in personalized medicine and immunotherapy (which helps the immune system fight cancer) have failed to improve the treatment of pancreatic cancer. This is mainly due to two characteristics:

  • 95% of these tumors are caused by mutations in KRAS oncogenes. Oncogenes are ...
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