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Breakthrough in pancreatic cancer research overcomes treatment-resistance

The latest findings in pancreatic cancer show that the illness isn’t impossible to treat

Surgical oncologist Dr. Nipun Merchant claims that pancreatic cancer has proven too sophisticated for earlier clinical trials of other targeted medicines involving the KRAS pathway. However, researchers at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center have finally accomplished what others have been striving to do for decades. Their findings provide the first evidence that combining targeted medicines with immunotherapy can overcome one of the main barriers to treating pancreatic cancer.

A novel finding in pancreatic cancer research

The striking finding in a recent study from the Sylvester Pancreatic Cancer Research Institute is that resistance to KRAS can be overcome by using a mixture of MEK and STAT3 blockers. It reprograms the tumor microenvironment to suppress the growth-promoting stromal subpopulations. This leads to the revival of stromal cells, which help with controlling the tumor.

Immunosuppressive cells present in the tumor microenvironment are also reduced by this regulation. Drugs used in immunotherapy, such as programmed death 1 inhibitors, are more likely to be successful against pancreatic cancer if this pathway is activated.

Shot of Internal body Pointing at Pancreas

About the experiments and trials at Sylvester

In recent years, scientists have realized that stroma is a dynamic, heterogeneous, and multifunctional part of the tumor. Tumors of the pancreas are made up of cancer cells and stroma, which is a thick, fibrous scar-like tissue.

Sylvester employed state-of-the-art methods like single-cell RNA sequencing and single-cell mass cytometry to reach the level of refinement and sophistication required to examine distinct stromal cell sub-compartments. Human trials for this study are currently happening at the Sylvester Pancreatic Cancer Research Institute, led by Peter J. Hosein, M.D., co-author of the paper and co-leader of Sylvester's Gastrointestinal Cancers Site Disease Group.

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