The human body knows no worse disease than cancer. Like any other cancer that we have heard of, pancreatic cancer is also a silent attacker. The worst part about the disease is that the survival rate is extremely low. According to the National Cancer Institute, most people infected with pancreatic cancer have died within five years of diagnosis. It can rarely be found in the early stages when there are effective treatment options. The disease, therefore, ranks as the third most lethal cancer type known to have caused cancer deaths in the United States.
Some researchers at the University of Florida have come up with a new approach against this deadly disease. The approach involves two molecules that can inhibit a process that may lead to the spread of cancerous pancreatic cells.
What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
The pancreas is a small gland located underneath the stomach. The function of the gland is to regulate sugar levels and aid food digestion. The two hormones secreted by the pancreas- insulin, and glucagon- help it to control blood sugar levels in the body.
Pancreatic cancer is a stage when the pancreatic cells multiply beyond measure and exhibit uncontrollable mutations. The tissue mass formed as a result of this process can be cancerous or benign. Cancerous pancreatic tissues lead to pancreatic cancer.
Although most people fail to identify these, there are symptoms of pancreatic cancer that require immediate medical support. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal abdominal pain in the upper area which may spread to the back
- Itching in the skin
- Light colored feces
- Urine changing to dark yellow
- Clotting of blood in the body
- The sudden appearance of diabetes
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The New Therapeutic Approach
The experts at the University of Florida have expressed hope in developing an effective approach to preventing pancreatic cancer. From their findings as stated in the Cell Death Discovery journal, it is seen that there are two molecules that have the capacity to stop the proliferation of precancerous cells. This is a boon because these molecules can prevent the precancerous progression of pancreatic cells. In addition, these molecules also have the ability to reverse a process named acinar ductal metaplasia (ADM) which is known to lead to pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Tom Schmittgen, the senior author of the research and the Pharmaceutics Department Chairperson of the College of Pharmacy, University of Florida opined that it was the first time that the researchers have found a method to reverse ADM. He was elated to say that with the two molecules discovered pancreatic cancer could be prevented at an early stage and, hopefully, treatments could be improved as a result.
The ADM process saves the pancreas from secreting too many enzymes and destroying itself. In this process, the acinar cells produce enzymes that convert themselves into duct cells that line the pancreatic duct to offer protection.
During the transformation of the acinar cells to duct cells, some of them can become cancerous causing pancreatic cancer. The researchers have discovered two molecules that help to reverse ductal cells to acinar cells.
For the process, they created a laboratory model consisting of cancerous pancreatic animal cells and healthy human tissue. Then, they used the two molecules on the infected cells and identified that the cells were reverting to acinar cells. This method of aiding acinar cells to maintain their actual state can help prevent pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Schmittgen said that this is an immensely significant discovery because it can help people with the risks of pancreatic cancer. The ADM condition can be reversed using the molecules and, thus, prevent the individual from pancreatic cancer. Now, the researchers are busy performing studies on discovering other compounds that could be more effective in preventing pancreatic cancer by reversing ADM.
🔵National Library Of Medicine (n.d) Molecular Drivers of Pancreatic Cancer Pathogenesis: Looking Inward to Move Forward (Available On):https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412363/
🔵Cleveland Clinic (n.d) Pancreatic Cancer (Available On):https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15806-pancreatic-cancer
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