New Era In Cancer Treatment?

Pancreatic cancer genome fully mapped

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

(RxWiki News) The outlook for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer has just brightened a little. Scientists have made a giant leap forward in understanding the background operations of this cancer.

An international effort has mapped the entire genome of pancreatic cancer.

"We now know every gene involved in pancreatic cancer," said William E. Fisher, MD, FACS, director of the Elkins Pancreas Center at Baylor College of Medicine. "This study ushers in a whole new era of taking care of patients with pancreatic cancer." 

"Ask your doctor if genetic tests are available for your condition."

Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center was one of three institutions around the world that worked on this project. Working with the Australian Pancreatic Center Genome Initiative and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer Genome Study, researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of pancreatic tumor and normal tissue.

These tissues came from 142 pancreatic cancer patients. After thorough analysis of 99 tumors, the investigators identified 2,016 mutations that resulted in cell changes and 1,628 other variations that alter – delete or duplicate – genetic information.

The study also uncovered alterations in genes not previously known to be involved in pancreatic cancer.

“We are poised to jump on this gene list and do some exciting things," Dr. Fisher said in a news release.

Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in about 44,000 Americans every year. Only about 5 percent of patients are alive after five years. The authors noted these figures haven’t changed much in the past half century. This is the first study to work with human pancreatic tumor tissue. Previously, the disease has been studied in animal models.

A paper on the findings of this research was published online October 24 in the journal Nature.

Funding for this work came from: the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia; the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research of Australia; the Australian Cancer Research Foundation; the Queensland Government; the Cancer Council New South Wales; the Avner Nahmi Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation; the R.T. Hall Trust; the American Association of Cancer Research; Landon Foundation; the RACS; the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center National Human Genome Research Institute grant; the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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Review Date: 
November 20, 2012
Last Updated:
April 2, 2013