The protein called mesothelin appears to play an important role in promoting pancreatic cancer growth, said the senior author Dr. Qizhi (Cathy) Yao, professor of surgery – vascular surgery at BCM. She, along with co-lead authors Dr. Min Li, assistant professor of surgery, and research associate Dr. Uddalak Bharadwaj carried out the studies of the protein that is found on the tumor cells’ surface.
“Mesothelin is found in other cancers for several years,” said Yao, also a researcher in the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM. “However, we didn’t know the role it played in pancreatic cancer:” until she and her colleagues reported in this article. In fact, they found very high levels of mesothelin in 18 of 21 samples of patient’s pancreatic tissues compared to amounts found in nearby normal tissues. In studies of this protein in the lab, pancreatic cancer cell lines that produced high levels of mesothelin grew faster and spread more than those in which mesothelin levels were lower.
Pancreatic cancer cells grew and spread faster in mice whose tumors expressed high levels of mesothelin than in those whose cancer did not, said the researchers, who conducted the studies in an immune deficient mouse.
“We saw this molecule as very significant in the life of the tumor cells,” Yao said. “Our next step is to identify whether this would be a good active immunotherapy target.”
Making a treatment vaccine of virus-like particles (VLPs) that contained mesothelin, researchers injected mice having pancreatic cancer with this vaccine three times. Virus-like particles have the unique property of inducing protective immune responses but they lack the infectious capacities of the original virus.
Tumor growth in the immunized mice slowed and in some cases the tumor disappeared. The average life span for the mice not treated was four weeks. The immunized mice survived five weeks longer than those not treated.
Researchers found that the immunization works by suppressing production of key immune system cells that suppress the body’s ability to fight the tumor. The researchers said pancreatic cancers produce these cells, called T regulatory cells, as a protective measure.
“If we are able to see the same results in humans, this would allow us to incorporate a combination therapy to treat the tumor,” Yao said. “Treatment with a single drug is not effective.”
Yao and her colleagues are seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to begin studies using their vaccination on people suffering from pancreatic cancer.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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