Genome analysis of pancreas tumors reveals new pathway

October 24, 2012

The latest genomic analysis of pancreatic tumors identified two new pathways involved in the disease, information that could be capitalized on to develop new and earlier diagnostic tests for the disease

"We now know every gene involved in ," said Dr. William Fisher, professor of surgery and director of the Elkins Pancreas Center at BCM. "This study ushers in a whole new era of taking care of patients with pancreatic cancer. We will look back on this as a turning point in understanding and treating this disease."

The study follows a five-year collaboration between the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery and the Baylor College of Medicine Human Sequencing Center, said Fisher.

The Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center was one of three sequencing centers worldwide that analyzed the genomes of and normal tissues taken from 142 patients with the disease. The BCM center, along with the Australian Pancreatic Center Genome Initiative and the Ontario Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Genome Study carried out detailed studies on 99 of the tumors, identifying 1982 mutations that resulted in a change to a protein and 1,628 significant copy number variations events in which the structure of the chromosomes themselves are changed, either deleting or duplicating .

The multi-institution, international consortium of researchers discovered mutations in genes involved in chromatin modification (changes that affect the way DNA is packaged inside the cell) and axon guidance (the process by which the axon – a long threadlike project that carries impulses away from the neuron – is guided to grow to its proper target).

"This is a category of genes not previously linked to pancreatic cancer," said Fisher. "We are poised to jump on this gene list and do some exciting things."

New information is much welcome in the field of pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of with an overall five-year survival rate of less than 5 percent. The figures have not changed substantially in the past 50 years.

The study is the first to report findings from primary tumors in the disease. Previously only cell lines or tumors transplanted into mice had been used because the tumors are so small. "Therefore it required new techniques to sensitively identify mutations that were important to the development of cancer," said Dr. David Wheeler, associate professor in the BCM Sequencing Center who oversees the center's cancer projects. Wheeler and Fisher are also members of the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM.

A report appears online in the journal Nature.

Explore further: Gene identified in increasing pancreatic cancer risk

Related Stories

Gene identified in increasing pancreatic cancer risk

December 29, 2011
Mutations in the ATM gene may increase the hereditary risk for pancreatic cancer, according to data published in Cancer Discovery, the newest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Gene linked to pancreatic cancer growth, study finds

January 31, 2012
A mutant protein found in nearly all pancreatic cancers plays a role not only in the cancer's development but in its continued growth, according to a new study from University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers. ...

Recommended for you

New bowel cancer drug target discovered

October 17, 2017
Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered a new drug target for bowel cancer that is specific to tumour cells and therefore less toxic than conventional therapies.

Many pelvic tumors in women may have common origin—fallopian tubes

October 17, 2017
Most—and possibly all—ovarian cancers start, not in ovaries, but instead in the fallopian tubes attached to them.

Researchers find novel mechanism of resistance to anti-cancer drugs

October 17, 2017
The targeted anti-cancer therapies cetuximab and panitumumab are mainstays of treatment for advanced colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, many patients have tumors ...

Using artificial intelligence to improve early breast cancer detection

October 17, 2017
Every year 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the U.S. alone. When cancers are found early, they can often be cured. Mammograms are the best test available, but they're still imperfect and often result in false positive ...

New assay may boost targeted treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

October 17, 2017
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive cancer and the most frequently diagnosed non-Hodgkin lymphoma worldwide (nearly 40% of cases). Recent advancements indicate that both the prognosis and choice of treatment ...

Biology of childhood brain tumor subtypes offers clues to precision treatments

October 17, 2017
Researchers investigating pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGG), the most common type of brain tumor in children, have discovered key biological differences in how mutated genes combine with other genes to drive this childhood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.