New insights into pancreatic cancer
Stockholm – A recent study from the Karolinska Institute reveals how two types of cellular changes interact in the development of cancer, and the results could improve the chances of early discovery of sarcomas. Pancreatic cancer is linked to two particularly common cellular changes: mutations in RAS genes and increased activity in the ‘Hedgehog’ signalling pathway. The new study by scientists from the group of Rune Toftgård was published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1833). The scientists have shown that activation of RAS cancer genes leads to secretion of Sonic hedgehog factor (SHh), which activates Hedgehog signalling and shuts off the tumour cell’s own ability to respond to this type of stimulation. The blocking of Hedgehog response helps to ensure the survival of the tumour cells, and stimulates growth in the surrounding cells. The scientists have also identified proteins that govern the tumour cells’ sensitivity to SHh.