Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential treatment target identified in an animal model of pancreatic cancer

Date:
July 1, 2012
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Detailed analysis of genes expressed in circulating tumor cells -- cells that break off from solid tumors and travel through the bloodstream -- has identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Detailed analysis of genes expressed in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) -- cells that break off from solid tumors and travel through the bloodstream -- has identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer. In a report that will appear in Nature and has received advance online publication, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center investigators describe finding increased expression of WNT2, a member of a known family of oncogenes, in CTCs from a mouse model of the deadly tumor and from human patients.

The researchers were able to capture the CTCs -- present in the bloodstream at extremely low levels -- using a microchip-based device previously developed by members of the team.

"This proof of principle study is the first to show that, by studying both mouse and human pancreatic cancer cells captured with this device, we can dissect genes that are overexpressed in these cells and identify signaling pathways that allow them to survive in the bloodstream," says Daniel Haber, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Cancer Center and senior author of the Nature paper. "We also found that targeting a key step in these pathways can reduce metastatic potential, which is critically important for control of pancreatic cancer. This study would not have been possible without a way to isolate rare CTCs from both mouse models and human patients."

Using the second-generation version of the CTC-chip, developed in collaboration with the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine, the researchers first captured CTCs from mice genetically programmed to develop pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly tumors since it is rarely diagnosed before spreading. Analysis of RNA expression levels in pancreatic CTCs, in primary tumor cells, and in normal pancreatic tissue identified several genes with significantly increased expression in the CTCs. One of these, WNT2, belongs to a family of developmental genes often overexpressed in cancer, and while the gene's expression in pancreatic tumors was higher than in normal tissue, WNT2 expression was significantly more elevated in both CTCs and metastatic cells.

Closer analysis of cells from several individual animals confirmed that WNT2 was highly expressed in pancreatic cancer CTCs and in metastases, but WNT2-expressing cells were found to be rare in primary tumors. Testing the consequences of WNT2 expression indicated that cancer cells expressing the gene were more likely to generate metastases, probably because of an improved ability to survive after dislodging from the primary tumor and entering the bloodstream.

The researchers tested several agents known to inhibit the activity of molecules in the WNT2 pathway their results implied was associated with pancreatic cancer and found that inhibition of TGF-beta activated kinase 1 (TAK1) prevented metastasis-associated activities in cultured CTCs. Knocking down TAK1 expression with RNA interference also reduced the development of metastasis in mice injected with WNT2-expressing CTCs. A significant percentage of tested CTCs from patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer were found to express WNT-related genes, along with other components of the signaling pathway associated with pancreatic cancer in the mouse model.

"The picture in more complicated in humans, since multiple WNTs are upregulated," Haber says. "But the TAK1 inhibitor we tested appears to have an effect on diverse WNT pathways involved in the survival of pancreatic CTCs. We previously reported that TAK1 inhibition has promise for treating a genetically defined subset of colon cancers, and these findings now extend the relevance of the TAK1 pathway to suppression of blood-borne metastasis in pancreatic cancer. Considerable more work will be needed to fully understand the critical pathways involved, but it is our hope that TAK1 inhibitors will ultimately be developed for clinical testing."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Min Yu, David T. Ting, Shannon L. Stott, Ben S. Wittner, Fatih Ozsolak, Suchismita Paul, Jordan C. Ciciliano, Malgorzata E. Smas, Daniel Winokur, Anna J. Gilman, Matthew J. Ulman, Kristina Xega, Gianmarco Contino, Brinda Alagesan, Brian W. Brannigan, Patrice M. Milos, David P. Ryan, Lecia V. Sequist, Nabeel Bardeesy, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Mehmet Toner, Shyamala Maheswaran, Daniel A. Haber. RNA sequencing of pancreatic circulating tumour cells implicates WNT signalling in metastasis. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11217

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Potential treatment target identified in an animal model of pancreatic cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191619.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2012, July 1). Potential treatment target identified in an animal model of pancreatic cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191619.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Potential treatment target identified in an animal model of pancreatic cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191619.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins