Attacking Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells May Lead To Better Treatment

Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer Barts Cancer Institute - a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence Queen Mary University of London Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer

Barts Cancer Institute – a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence
Queen Mary University of London
Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sancho: Cancer cells commonly rely on glycolysis, the type of metabolism that does not use oxygen to generate their energy however, we have now found that not all cancer cells are alike when it comes to metabolism. Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells (PancCSCs) can make use of a more efficient form of metabolism, called oxidative phosphorylation or OXPHOS, which does use oxygen. OXPHOS uses a part of the cell called mitochondria and it is this which can be targeted with anti-diabetic drug, metformin. Some PancSCs are however able to escape this treatment by being much more flexible in their metabolism, leading to a recurrence of the cancer, but we also found a way to prevent such resistance and force all Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells to keep using OXPHOS.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Sancho: Pancreatic cancer is still one of the most difficult cancer types to treat, partly because of its tendency to cause symptoms and trigger diagnosis only at a late and advanced stage. Many patients do not live longer than a year post-diagnosis. In the long term, this could mean that pancreatic cancer patients have more treatment options available to them, including a reduced risk of recurrence following surgery and other treatments.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sancho: Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells could be an important but as yet overlooked piece of this puzzle. While they make up only a small proportion of the tumour, they have the potential to make new tumours, even if all the other cells are killed, and are prone to spreading around the body (metastasis). For that reason, it is very important to consider therapies able to eliminate these highly aggressive cells

Citation:

Patricia Sancho et al. MYC/PGC-1α Balance Determines the Metabolic Phenotype and Plasticity of Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells. Cell Metabolism, September 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.08.015

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p.sancho@qmul.ac.uk

Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer (2015). Attacking Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells May Lead To Better Treatment