Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists pinpoint a new molecular mechanism tied to pancreatic cancer

23.08.2013
New research led by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Baylor College of Medicine could aid efforts to diagnose and treat one of the most lethal and hard-to-treat types of cancer.

In the EMBO Molecular Medicine journal, the investigators report that they have identified a new molecular mechanism that contributes to the spread of malignant tumors in the pancreas. The hope is that drugs could one day be developed to block this pathway.

Most people with pancreatic cancer die within one to two years of diagnosis and it is expected to claim 38,460 lives in the United States in 2013. There are currently no effective tests for early detection and no effective therapies for the fast-spreading form.

The study focused on the previously established link between zinc and pancreatic cancer and sought to identify a molecular mechanism responsible for the elevated levels found in human and animal cells. Zinc is an essential trace element and small amounts are important for human health.

“We were the first to show that zinc transporter ZIP4 was a marker for pancreatic cancer,” said Min Li, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and associate professor and director of the Cancer Research Program in the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at the UTHealth Medical School. “We knew there was a link but we didn’t know what it was.”

Li is on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, which is a joint venture of UTHealth and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Zinc levels are regulated by ZIP4, which acts as a master switch, and the researchers designed experiments to determine what happens when the switch is flipped on, Li said.

In an animal model of pancreatic cancer, the scientists observed how the initiation of ZIP4 triggered the activation of two downstream genes, which in turn accounts for the increased tumor growth. Scientists describe this as a signaling cascade.

“Pancreatic cancer is among the worst of all cancers. It is imperative to define the mechanism of this deadly disease. We have recently demonstrated a novel biological role for the zinc transporter ZIP4 in pancreatic cancer; however, the molecular pathway controlling this phenomenon remains elusive. This study provides a comprehensive mechanism for ZIP4-mediated pancreatic cancer growth involving the activation of a transcription factor CREB and an oncogenic miR-373, and reduction in key tumor suppressor genes,” said Yuqing Zhang, Ph.D., co-first author of the study.

Jingxuan Yang, Ph.D., co-first author and research scientist at the UTHealth Medical School, said, “Our findings in this study define a novel signaling axis promoting pancreatic cancer growth, providing potential mechanistic insights on how a zinc transporter functions in cancer cells and may have broader implications as abnormal zinc concentration in the cells plays an important role in many other diseases.”

“The results we reported in this study may help the design of future therapeutic strategies targeting the zinc transporter and microRNA pathways to treat pancreatic cancer,” said Xiaobo Cui, M.D., Ph.D., study co-first author and postdoctoral research fellow at the UTHealth Medical School.

Co-authors include: Yong Chen, Ph.D., Vivian F. Zhu, and John P. Hagan, Ph.D., of UTHealth; Huamin Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Paul Chiao, Ph.D., and Craig D. Logsdon, Ph.D., of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Sally E. Hodges, William E. Fisher, M.D., F. Charles Brunicardi, M.D., Changyi Chen, M.D., Ph.D., and Qizhi Yao, M.D., Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine; Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic; Xianjun Yu, M.D., Ph.D., of Fudan University in Shanghai, China; and Jing Fang, Ph.D., of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.

The study titled “A novel epigenetic CREB-miR-373 axis mediates ZIP4-induced pancreatic cancer growth” received support from National Institutes of Health Grants (R01CA138701, R21CA133604), and the William and Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation.

Rob Cahill
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030

Robert Cahill | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uth.tmc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>