Molecule May Hold Key to Fighting Some Pancreatic Cancers

Posted by Hollie Williams on May 26th, 2017

With less than an estimated 54,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States, pancreatic cancer is far from the most common. The 40,000 deaths attributed to it annually, however, make it one of the deadliest types of cancer in the United States. With a five-year survival rate that comes in at less than 10 percent, pancreatic cancer is a diagnosis few survive. Researchers, however, believe they may have uncovered a clue that could lead to breakthroughs in treatment. A molecule in the body called MIR506 may play a significant role in the development of a more successful treatment for this form of cancer.

The most common form of pancreatic cancer is known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma or PDAC for short. This type of the disease begins in the ducts of the pancreas and is considered quite aggressive. With no highly effective manner to treat PDAC, researchers have been working to unlock its mysteries based on previous studies that indicated MIR506 may play a role.

The most recent study looked into the manner in which MIR506 interacted with pancreatic cancer cells. Researchers found that mice displayed lower levels of MIR506 if pancreatic tumors were present. Other research revealed that adding MIR506 to tumor cells was able to stop cancer cell growth while blocking the function that enables them to metastasize. Essentially, MIR506, a microRNA that is already made in the body, may serve to suppress tumors while helping promote cancer cell death.

While still very much under study, the most recent findings related to MIR506 may someday help clinicians develop more effective treatments. Testing levels of this molecule may also help indicate the aggressiveness of tumors, researchers say.

Pancreatic cancer has long stood as a vexing condition for healthcare providers. While cancers such as breast and prostate have witnessed the development of very successful treatments, the key to beating pancreatic cancer has eluded researchers. This type of cancer is known to create very few, if any, symptoms in its earliest stages. That means most people receive a diagnosis after the condition has reached a critical stage, complicating treatment efforts. With no widely available screening tool, early detection is complicated, as well. As researchers work to develop a tool for early screening, research into MIR506 may someday lead to more effective treatments.

Pancreatic cancer is rare, but there are risk factors people should be aware of. They include newly onset diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, a family history and obesity, among others. People who are concerned about pancreatic cancer should discuss the condition and their risks with a healthcare provider.

About Author

The Sandler-Kenner Foundation was started by Gregory A. Echt, M.D. and his wife, Susan T. Echt, after they lost two of their dear friends, Michael and Peter, to premature deaths from pancreatic cancer.

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Hollie Williams

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Hollie Williams
Joined: September 18th, 2015
Articles Posted: 25

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