Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive types of tumours. If a tumour cannot be removed surgically, the remaining treatment options have an extremely limited effect. Research into the genetic causes for the development of this disease and its highly aggressive course is an urgent clinical concern. An international research consortium has now successfully mapped an integrated “atlas” of the often complex changes in cancer cells.
Researchers cooperate worldwide
One particular difficulty with pancreatic cancer is that the tumour tissue has a very high proportion of connective tissue in which only small amounts of the actual cancer cells can be found.
Within the scope of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project – an initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA – blood and tissue samples from 150 patients worldwide were collected and analysed centrally. Particular attention was paid to the quality of the materials examined and the clinical data.
Sample quality is decisive
The findings from this study in which doctors and scientists from the Institute of Pathology at the Technical University of Munich and the Clinic for Surgery of the University Hospital Rechts der Isar were also involved have now been published in the journal Cancer Cell. Thanks to high-quality biosamples, Prof. Karl-Friedrich Becker and Dr. Julia Slotta-Huspenina (both from the Institute of Pathology) and Prof. Klaus-Peter Janssen (Clinic for Surgery) were able to ensure that high-quality genome and proteome analyses could even be conducted with just small quantities of cancer cells.
Among others, the study’s authors were able to describe novel genetic alterations in detail for the first time, which could potentially serve as the basis for new, targeted cancer treatments.
Source: University Hospital Rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich, a partner of the Joint Biobank Munich (JBM)