Cancer News Network

Cancer Awareness , Developments in Cancer Research and News on Cancer

Friday, February 02, 2007

Discovery of stem cells in pancreatic tumors opens a new approach for treating this disease

The Boston Globe: Researchers have discovered a small population of stem cells in pancreatic cancer that appear to drive tumor growth, opening the door for a potential new approach for treating this particularly deadly disease.

Writing in the journal
Cancer Research yesterday, University of Michigan scientists said finding cancer stem cells in pancreatic tumors could lead to the development of drugs intended to target and kill these cells.

Scientists have toiled with little success to find better ways to treat cancer of the pancreas, which has the lowest survival rate of any major form of cancer.

It kills 97 percent of people diagnosed with it within five years -- half within six months of diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer spreads quickly and is rarely detected at an early stage. In the United States alone, it kills 33,000 people a year.

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that secretes a digestive fluid and the hormone insulin.

"The clinical implications of this work are significant," Dr. Diane Simeone, director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead author of the study, said in an interview.

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