Protein Identified for Detecting and Targeting Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

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Pancreatic cancer typically does not begin to show symptoms until it has already metastasized.

In addition, it is highly drug resistant, making it a difficult cancer to treat. As a result, current research is focused on both tracking and halting the progression of this cancer. This study first identified that the RNA binding proteins Msi1 and 2 are expressed in primary pancreatic tumors, with an increase in expression during progression. This initial finding led researchers to determine the potential of Msi1 and 2 as indicators and therapeutic targets for tumorigenesis.

Fluorescent reporters were created to detect the expression of Msi1 and 2, allowing for live imaging of cancer growth and spread in a mouse genetic model of pancreatic cancer. Tumor cells expressing Msi1 and 2 were more tumorigenic in vitro and in vivo. These cells were also highly resistant to gemcitabine, a chemotherapeutic currently used for the treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Next, Msi1 and 2 were inhibited in a xenograft mouse model. When protein expression was silenced with short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) before implantation, a very small subset of cells progressed to adenocarcinoma. When Msi1 and 2 were directly targeted by antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) after implantation, cancer growth was inhibited. Read more . . .