Those suffering from chronic pancreatitis face a heightened risk of pancreatic cancer. Approximately five percent of those with CP will develop the disease, which is one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
Fortunately, new research is yielding potential breakthrough therapies for pancreatic cancer. Researchers at Sanford-Burnham and UC San Diego been able to convert cancer cells in the lab back to into normal, healthy cells. The transformation is achieved using a protein called E47, which halts the progression of cancer in the cells, prompting them to revert back to healthy cells. You can read an article by Sanford-Burnham on the research here and coverage in online site Gizmag here.
Many steps remain to translate the findings into a treatment available to patients. But the concept of reprogramming cancer cells using a targeted protein — without resorting to radiation or more onerous forms of chemotherapy — is certainly exciting and groundbreaking. If successful, the approach seems to offer a new path of attack against many forms of cancer.
Other promising treatments include a drug under development by Sun Biopharma that targets cancer cells producing pancreatic enzymes while leaving healthy islet cells intact. Hopefully research on these promising treatments will proceed on a fast track.