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New discovery starts drug development for pancreatic cancer

13th August 2020

Scientists, funded by your kindness, have taken the first step towards a new and urgently needed targeted treatment for pancreatic cancer. The UK team of researchers, led by Dr Sharon Rossiter, discovered several new compounds that inhibit S100P, a protein that is known to play a detrimental role in tumour progression and metastasis in pancreatic, as well as several other cancers.

Dr Sharon Rossiter said, “We hope this will lead to new medicines that can slow the spread of pancreatic cancer and other cancers where this protein is involved, also helping other current treatments to be more effective.”

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal cancers and while survival rates for other cancers have increased in the last 40 years, less than 7% of people with pancreatic cancer currently survive for 5 years or longer in the UK. A lack of ways to diagnose this cancer early and the largely asymptomatic nature of the disease means that most people are diagnosed at an advanced stage when treatments such as chemotherapy are not as effective.

To identify potential new drugs for pancreatic cancer, the researchers first created a computer model of the S100P protein. They then screened a database of potential drug-like compounds that fit into the S100P protein in a way that would stop it from functioning properly. From this, they were able to identify several compounds that were able to target pancreatic cancer cells.

Explaining the impact of their findings, Dr Rossiter said, “Our study showed us that it is possible to design small molecules to specifically target the S100P protein, leading the way to develop these into a potential drug treatment.”

“We are still in the early stages of the drug development process, which overall takes several years to reach clinical trials”.

“The next steps of our research will be to design even better molecules that block S100P more strongly, whilst not affecting other similar proteins in the body, so these can be further developed towards a safe and effective treatment for patients.”

Thank you so much for all of your support through donations and fundraising. Your support allows us to carry out the vital research needed to understand more about the mechanisms of cancer and to discover new ways to treat the disease. This helps us to make the scientific breakthroughs that will lead to helping patients
Dr Sharon Rossiter

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