New Approach to Treating Pancreatic Cancer Being Explored

Targeting macropinocytosis may starve tumor cells of needed nutrients.


Pancreatic cancer is often undetected until it is the latest stages and difficult to treat. Researches have been seeking a way to halt the rapid growth of pancreatic tumor cells, with many focused on interrupting nutrient supply.


Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have targeted micropinocytosis, a nutrient supply route accessible by pancreatic tumor cells. The process is known as “cellular drinking”, and if it can be halted, the cells could be starved, leading to cell death.


According to these researchers, glutamine could be the key target for interrupting micropinocytosis. This conclusion was reached after they examined cell lines from people with the most common type of pancreatic cancer - pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma – using a mouse model of human pancreatic cancer. The found that removing glutamine in some cell lines increased micropinocytosis, while in others there was no change, suggesting that glutamine depletion may make some pancreatic tumor cells more sensitive to drugs that target micropinocytosis.


In addition, the scientist found that in the cells inside tumors where elevated micropinocytosis occurs, the EGFR and Pal signaling pathways are important regulators of glutamine-sensitive micropinocytosis.

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