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Protein converts pancreatic cancer cells back into healthy cells

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Researchers working on pancreatic cancer research have introduced a technique that can turns cancerous cells back into
normal healthy cells. The method basically depends upon the introduction of a protein
called E47, which bonds with particular DNA sequences and reverts the
cells back to their original state.
The whole study is performed by the researchers from Sanford-Burnham
Medical Research Institute, University of California San Diego and
Purdue University. The scientists are hopeful that it could help combat
the deadly disease in humans.

“For the first time, we have shown that over-expression of a single gene
can reduce the tumor-promoting potential of pancreatic adenocarcinoma
cells and reprogram them toward their original cell type,” says Pamela
Itkin-Ansari, adjunct professor at Sanford-Burnham and lead author of
the study. “Thus, pancreatic cancer cells retain a genetic memory which
we hope to exploit.”

For their research, the scientists developed pancreatic cancer cells
with heightened levels of the E47 protein. They found that the protein
then controlled genes responsible for growth and differentiation. It
halted the cancer cells in the growth stage and caused them to revert
back to acinar cells, the healthy cells that produce pancreatic juice.

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The researchers also conducted in vivo studies where the reprogrammed
cells were introduced into mice. They found that the animal’s propensity
to form tumors was substantially less than those with regular
pancreatic cancer cells.

“Our next step is to test primary patient-derived tumor tissue to
determine whether E47 can produce similar results, potentially providing
a novel therapeutic approach to combating this highly lethal disease,”
says Itkin-Ansari. “Additionally, we are screening for molecules and
potential drugs, that can induce over-expression of E47.”

The research was published in the journal Pancreas.

Source: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

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