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Small molecule may offer new way to fight pancreatic cancer

Published on 27 April 2017 back to previous

In a search for much needed new treatments for pancreatic cancer - a deadly and aggressive disease with a poor survival rate - scientists are looking for clues at the molecular level. Now, a new study finds that a small molecule called MIR506 appears to play an important role in the fate of pancreatic cancer cells, and may offer a way to stop their growth and ability to spread.

The study - published in the journal Autophagy - is the work of a team led by Wei Zhang, a professor in cancer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.

Pancreatic cancer is a disease that starts when abnormal cells develop in the pancreas - a fish-shaped organ behind the stomach that makes hormones and enzymes. As the cells grow out of control, they form a tumor that grows and spreads.

The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

PDAC usually starts in the ducts of the pancreas - tiny tubes through which digestive enzymes secreted by the organ's exocrine cells begin their journey to the intestines.

Pancreatic cancer - most frequently in the form of PDAC - is the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. Unfortunately, there are few effective treatments aside from surgery, and even that option is not available to many patients, note the study authors.

Although it only accounts for 3 percent of all cancers, pancreatic cancer accounts for around 7 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, where it is estimated that 53,670 people will be diagnosed with the disease and 43,090 will die of it in 2017.

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This article was sourced from Medical News Today.
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