Zinc Kills Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Pancreatic cancer cells thrive when ZIP3 molecule is shut down

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) An essential element - one the body doesn't make on its own - may be useful in battling pancreatic cancer. Zinc levels could be something scientists can manipulate to treat this cancer.

University of Maryland researchers have found that zinc most likely kills pancreatic cancer tumors. A recent study shows that levels of zinc are significantly lower in pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells, a finding that could help with early diagnosis of the disease and lead the way to new therapeutic solutions.

"Ask your oncologist about increasing zinc levels."

Researchers have found an early genetic and metabolic change that leads to the development of pancreatic cancer. Cancerous (malignant) cells cut off a molecule that normally guides zinc into the cells. This so-called transporter molecule is known as ZIP3, and when it's not operating properly, zinc levels decline.

Finding a way to get zinc back into the malignant cells, may be a way to kill them, according to lead author Leslie Costello, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (SOD).

Pancreatic cancer is a particularly lethal form of the disease because it's generally not diagnosed until it hasreached an advanced stage.

Costello and SOD professor Renty Franklin, Ph.D. have collaborated on a number of studies exploring relationships of zinc levels and other cancers, including prostate cancer.

This latest research could well lead to important new methods both for diagnosing and treating early pancreatic cancers.

This research is published in the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy.

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Review Date: 
August 28, 2011
Last Updated:
August 30, 2011