Therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer identified

After detailed analysis of genesexpressed in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) — cells that break off from solid tumors and travel through the bloodstream — scientists have identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center investigators have described finding increased expression of WNT2, a member of a known family of oncogenes, in CTCs from a mouse model of the deadly tumor and from human patients.

            The researchers were able to capture the CTCs — present in the bloodstream at extremely low levels — using a microchip-based device previously developed by members of the team.

        “This proof of principle study is the first to show that, by studying both mouse and humanpancreatic cancer cells captured with this device, we can dissect genes that are overexpressed in these cells and identify signaling pathways that allow them to survive in the bloodstream,” said Daniel Haber, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Cancer Center and senior author of the Nature paper.


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