Cutting communication between normal and tumour cells in pancreatic cancer
Dr Angus Cameron and his team at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University, London, are using funding from Worldwide Cancer Research and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund to find out how normal cells in pancreatic tumours are recruited by cancer cells to support the growth and progression of the disease.
Tumours aren’t just masses of cancer cells but also contain lots of normal cells that have been recruited by the tumour to help it grow. One of these cells is known as a cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) and evidence shows that they play a critical role in the progression of cancer. They have a strong presence in pancreatic cancer and Dr Cameron’s team have recently identified a new protein, which is required for CAFs to assist the growth of a tumour.
The team have developed a genetically engineered mouse which they now want to use to study exactly how this protein allows CAFs to communicate with tumour cells and whether there is an effective way to block this communication so that tumour growth can be prevented. This will not only give a better understanding of the biology of pancreatic cancer but could also identify a new drug target for treating one of the deadliest cancers.