Pancreatic cancer: how cancer cells change their environment

Researchers have discovered that cancer cells are able to modify their environment to allow the development of metastases and fight against chemotherapy.

Pancreatic cancer is particularly aggressive: it accounts for only 1.8% of cancer cases in France but ranks 5th among the causes of cancer deaths. A group of scientists, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, investigated the behavior of cancer cells in this type of disease. In their work, they find that they are able to adapt their environment and that it contributes to the creation of metastases.

We are very excited to announce that our recent work in collaboration with A / Prof. Paul Timpson @Timpson_Lab has just been published in Nature Communications @NatureComms Read more here: //t.co/1l4X7k5y28 #PancreaticCancer @GarvanInstitute //t.co / iAw8fDaXx1 pic.twitter.com/sXCrYi6QJR

- Matrix & Metastasis Lab (@TCox_Lab) August 12, 2019

Modify the cellular environment of tumors

The researchers analyzed the organic tissue, called matrix, present around cancer cells in two configurations: metastatic and non-metastatic cancers. These matrices are mainly composed of fibroblasts, the researchers used them to test their hypotheses. When fibroblasts of a metastatic tumor are mixed with the cells of a non-metastatic tumor, the tumor develops. "This means that even a small number of aggressive metastatic cells can help develop other less aggressive cells," says Claire Vennin, the lead author of this study.

Improve the response to chemotherapy

The researchers then observed more closely the fibroblasts of the metastatic tumors. They discovered that they produce some molecules in higher quality than those of non-metastatic cancer cells. In mice, the researchers artificially lowered the level of perlecan, one of these molecules. These mice all had metastatic tumors, but decreased levels of perlecan reduced the spread of cancer cells and improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Develop new treatments

The researchers believe that their discoveries will help improve treatments in different types of cancer, such as prostate cancer or breast cancer. "Most cancer therapies are aimed at directly attacking cancer cells," says Dr. Timpson, co-author of the research, "The tumor environment is a resource not used in cancer therapy."

These new treatment tracks are a hope for the sick and the medical community. Because the death rate of pancreatic cancer has increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016.

Video: Hereditary Pancreatic Cancer. Q&A (February 2020).