Protein Discovery May Lead to Pancreatic Cancer Breakthroughs

With one of the worst five-year survival rates of all forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer is considered one of the deadliest forms of this disease. An estimated 48,000 Americans are diagnosed with it each year and some 40,000 die from it. Success in fighting pancreatic cancer effectively is hampered by a lack of reliable early detection techniques and the simple fact the disease tends to present with very few symptoms at its onset. Researchers, however, believe they may have found a way to gain life-saving insights. A new protein discovery may open the door for a more definitive biomarker to detect the disease’s presence earlier.

The protein in question was discovered by a team of American university researchers. They believe the protein plays an important role in the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. By being able to detect the protein, researchers someday may have stronger insights into the disease’s formation at its earlier, more treatable stages. Making the discovery even more exciting, researchers assert the protein itself may serve as a treatment target. Stopping the protein’s development, it is asserted, may stop the disease itself.

The newly discovered protein has since been called renalase because the kidneys are responsible for a great deal of its production. Researchers also found that cancer cells also make and release renalase. Using monoclonal antibodies of renalase, researchers were able to kill pancreatic cancer cells and effectively treat tumors in mice.

While potential human applications from the discovery of renalase may be years off in the future, the breakthrough finding is still very significant. First off, it may someday open the door for earlier detective of the disease in those who are considered at high risk. The use of the antibodies may also unlock an effective way to stop the disease in its tracks.

Pancreatic cancer is still considered a relatively rare form of the disease. Its incidence rate, however, is steadily climbing. Risk factors for the disease include diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, smoking and gallstones, among others. People who are at risk for the disease are urged to speak with their healthcare providers about preventative measures and early detection possibilities should concerns about its presence be high.

Patients diagnosed with prostate cancer are urged to discuss all treatment options with their healthcare providers. While the disease has a low survival rate at present, a number of recent advances have been made. The best treatment advice will come from a physician who is familiar with the particulars of a unique case.

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