Pancreas Cells Move Out Before Tumors Form

February 15, 2012

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Why does pancreatic cancer usually remain undetected until after it has metastasized? At least in mice, the cancer cells start spreading even before they form primary tumors. Inflammation helps drive that process by encouraging the transformation of epithelial cells into mesenchymal cells that can enter the bloodstream. Led by Ben Stanger, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, the researchers bred mice with mutations in genes often mutated in human pancreatic cancers. They also introduced an allele that tagged pancreatic epithelial cells with a green marker, allowing them to see how the cells developed and changed over time. Although the study did not demonstrate whether such disseminated cells can directly lead to tumor formation or metastatic disease, “Knowing that the pancreas is shedding cells early in the disease process may determine who is at risk," Stanger told Cancer Discovery. An article also ran on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website... Read More

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