Pancreatic Cancer Can Run but Not Hide from the Immune System, according to Penn Study


June 14, 2012

Pancreatic Cancer Can Run but Not Hide from the Immune System, according to Penn Study A study published this week in Cancer Cell from the Perelman School of Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania describes how pancreatic cancer cells produce a protein that attracts immune cells and tricks them into helping cancer cells grow. Blocking the protein may be also prove to be a new way to treat pancreatic cancer. Most pancreatic cancer cells contain a mutation in the KRAS gene. The Penn team looked to see how mutated KRAS proteins give pancreatic cancer its distinguishing properties. "We have discovered a critical way in which pancreatic tumor cells cripple the immune system. From very early on, tumor cells produce a molecule that drives inflammatory cells to cloak the tumor and prevent other immune cells from killing the cancer," says Penn's senior author Robert Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, associate professor of Medicine and associate investigator in the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. "We found that simply disabling the ability of tumors to make this molecule leads to a house-of-cards effect that resulted in massive tumor death in experimental models." Penn Medicine News Release

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