Dr Alessandro Carrer and his team aim to understand how mitochondria – the powerhouses – and the nucleus – the brain – of the cell communicate with each other. Uncovering how this communication can be hijacked in pancreatic cancer might lead to new prevention approaches for pancreatic cancer.
Few effective therapies exist for pancreatic cancer. Most cases are diagnosed at a late stage, further dampening survival rates. To fix this problem scientists are working hard to find new ways of attacking pancreatic cancer. One promising area of research focuses on the ways in which pancreatic cancer cells utilise energy. Oncogenes – genes that can lead to the development of cancer – can change the way cells use energy, making them act more like cancer cells. These changes impact the mitochondria – known as the powerhouses of the cell – and how they deal with the cell’s energy demands. Mitochondria may be able to communicate these changes with the nucleus – the brain – of the cell, thereby changing the cell’s behaviour.
Dr Alessandro Carrer and his team are trying to understand this communication in pancreatic cancer. They are studying how the link between mitochondria and nucleus might be intercepted in cancer cells. Their work could give important clues to how pancreatic cancer might be stopped in its tracks.
Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest among major types of cancers, with an extremely poor survival rate and very limited therapeutic options to date.