EUREKALERT / COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY — Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a deadly cancer, killing patients within a year. CSHL Professor Christopher Vakoc and his former postdoc Timothy Somerville discovered how pancreatic cells lose their identity, acquire a deadly new identity, and recruit nearby cells to help them grow, promote inflammation, and invade nearby tissues. This understanding could lead to new therapies similar to ones developed for other cancers.
Vakoc says, “We think part of the reason why these tumors are so aggressive is that they exploit normal cells. The normal cells that are in the vicinity of these tumors, are actually co-conspirators in this disease, and are being co-opted to kind of create a community of cells that are kind of teaming up with one another to drive this aggressive cancer to expand and metastasize. Ultimately, we think we sort of learned why this tumor is so aggressive through understanding these two mechanisms.”