MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Armando E. del Río Hernández, PhD
European Research Council Fellow
Head, Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory
Senior Lecturer, Department of Bioengineering
Imperial College London
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Pancreatic cancer is an extremely aggressive disease with an unacceptably low survival rate that has not changed during the last 40 years despite significant efforts aimed at developing therapies against cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer is characterised by an extensive desmoplasia, which forms the majority of the tissue around the tumour. This desmoplastic tissue is known to help the tumour to grow and metastasize, and hinders drug delivery.
We have focused our efforts on understanding how pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), which are the key effectors that orchestrate the desmoplastic reaction in pancreatic cancer, can promote tumour progression. PSCs in healthy pancreas have abundant vitamin A storage in their cytoplasm and exist in a quiescent state that guarantees a balanced tissue homeostasis. In pancreatic cancer, loss of this balance activates PSCs, which lose the vitamin A content and remodel the surrounding tissue to make it favourable for cancer cell invasion.
We found that treating PSCs which ATRA (All trans-retinoic acid), the active metabolite of vitamin A mechanically reprograms PSCs to promote quiescence in vitro. Quiescent PSCs are unable to remodel the microenvironment to allow pancreatic cancer cell invasion.
To get more information about our findings please find the article in the open access journal Nature Communications:http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12630