Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Ruining the Environment

Protein called SMARCD3 modulates pancreatic cancer cell metabolism – a potential treatment target

20 February 2023

Ruining the Environment

For anything to thrive it needs the right environment, whether it’s a plant, a child, or even a cancer. So identifying the essential elements of that environment might help researchers hamper the development of conditions like the particularly persistent pancreatic cancer. A new study examined how genes are regulated and expressed in cancer stem cells – those that persist even after treatment. They discovered that a protein called SMARCD3 (highlighted in red in the human pancreatic cancer pictured), usually part of tumour-suppressing machinery, is key to tumours developing resistance to treatment. It's amplified in cancer cells and modulates gene expression to influence cell metabolism, creating the perfect platform for pancreatic cancer growth and treatment resistance. When it was blocked in mouse tumour cells, survival improved and tumours shrank back, particularly when done in addition to chemotherapy. Perhaps interfering with SMARCD3 could counter cancer growth, prevent treatment resistance, and improve prognosis for patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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