September 19, 2019
Scientists have discovered a compound could help slow down pancreatic cancer by targeting proteins that promote metastatic cells.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that the compound, 4-HAP, reduced tumors in mice and could improve survival for pancreatic cancer patients.
According to the National Cancer Institute, 73,554 people in the U.S. have pancreatic cancer and only 9.3 percent of those diagnosed survive five or more years.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, examined two types of proteins, mechanoresponsive proteins and non-mechanoresponsive proteins.
Scientists looked at a total of seven proteins, including nonmuscle myosin IIA, IIB and IIC; alpha-actinin 1 and 4; and filamin A and B. The mechanoresponsive proteins — IIA, IIC, active actinin 4 and filamin B — increased cancer tissue in the pancreas by over-producing the cancer cells.
Scientists found that even though the protein nonmuscle myosin IIC was found to be low in the cancer cells it had a profound impact on the cell's overall function. When they exposed these proteins to 4-HAP, it increased the cells' overall structure and stiffened the cells.
The group then tested 4-HAP as a treatment for pancreatic cancer by using a mouse model that had human pancreatic tissue implanted in the mouse's liver. They found that the tumors reduced by 50 percent. Researchers believe that treating the cells with the compound will allow scientists to target cancerous cells while protecting the healthy cells in the pancreas.