Australian scientists have determined the set of mutated genes that cause pancreatic cancer. The findings were featured in the journal Nature.
The pancreatic cancer study is part of a collaborative effort by the world's experts on the life-threatening disease, reports medicalnewstoday.com.
Professor Sean Grimmon, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at The University of Queensland, and Professor Andrew Biankin from The Kinghorn Cancer Centre at Garvan Institute of Medical Research / St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney led the collaborative study conducted by international experts.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia funded the study with a $27.5 million grant.
Speaking about their findings, Professor Grimmon said:
"We found over 2,000 mutated genes in total, ranging from the KRAS gene, which was mutated in about 90 per cent of samples, to hundreds of gene mutations that were only present in 1 or 2 per cent of tumors. So while tumors may look very similar under the microscope, genetic analysis reveals as many variations in each tumor as there are patients. This demonstrates that so-called 'pancreatic cancer' is not one disease, but many, and suggests that people who seemingly have the same cancer might be to be treated quite differently."
The Nature report noted pancreatic cancer has killed more people compared to other types of cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Pain in the upper part of the stomach (abdomen), which can spread to the back
Unusual weight loss
Diabetes mellitus or high levels of blood sugar
Trosseau sign, or blood clotting that shows up in the deep veins of a person's extremities, superficial veins anywhere on the body, or in the portal blood vessels
Experts warn against complacence because pancreatic cancer sometimes fail to manifest itself through symptoms. It is best to go for regular check-ups to manage any physiological anomaly at once.
"'Personalized medicine', where the molecular profile of a patient is matched to the best treatment, is the way the world is moving for many diseases, not just cancer," said Professor Biankin.
"The challenge now will be moving from population healthcare and a 'one drug fits all' model to personalized healthcare," he added.
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