Investigator says pancreatic cancer biomarker may point to effective treatment

Pancreatic cancer has long remained one of the toughest targets in the oncology drug field. But an investigator at the University of Cincinnati says targeting a biomarker known as phosphatidylserine (PS) could greatly improve the odds of coming up with an effective therapy.

Building on work that showed a combination of cellular components called SapC-DOPS can effectively kill a variety of cancer cells, the team, led by oncology investigator Xiaoyang Qi, notes that SapC-DOPS binds to phosphatidylserine, a lipid found on the membrane surfaces of pancreatic tumor cells. The work was published Oct. 4 in PLoS ONE.

"We observed that the nanovesicles selectively killed human pancreatic cancer cells, and the noncancerous, or untransformed, cells remained unaffected," Qi says. "This toxic effect correlated to the surface exposure level of PS on the tumor cells."

Qi added that the technology is now being licensed--the release didn't mention any company by name--and that clinical trials would begin soon.

"Dr. Qi's discovery has great potential to be developed into diagnostics and therapies for pancreatic cancer," says Shuk-mei Ho, director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center and Jacob G. Schmidlapp Professor and Chair of Environmental Health. "This type of research helps fulfill the mission of the National Cancer Institute to promote translation of research from the bench to the bedside."

- here's the press release
- and the research article

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