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Blocking Digestive Hormone Could Prevent Pancreatic Cancer

There are many factors that contribute to a person’s overall risk of developing cancer, but more often than not, just by controlling the processes that favor its progression, the disease can be held at bay. Pancreatic cancer is rated as one of the most common types of malignancy worldwide, and unfortunately has a significantly low [...]

There are many factors that contribute to a person’s overall risk of developing cancer, but more often than not, just by controlling the processes that favor its progression, the disease can be held at bay.

Pancreatic cancer is rated as one of the most common types of malignancy worldwide, and unfortunately has a significantly low median survival rate even when it is discovered early on. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 56,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. alone, and more than 44,000 people will die as a result of the disease in 2018.

Because pancreatic cancer is linked with obesity, scientists have been focusing their research on cholecystokinin (CCK), a digestive hormone that is very noticeable in high-fat diets. It has a role in pancreatic growth and regeneration, but this means that it also stimulates cancer cells.

The study ran by researchers from Georgetown University, involved several stages of experimentation on mice. In one of them, the animals were treated with proglumide, a CCK inhibitor, and found that they had less tumor growth. In another, the mice were lacking CCK receptors, and again, the data showed no disease progression.

The conclusion was that there is a clear connection between CCK and cancer, and should be further explored. “The tumor-associated fibrosis that is so prevalent in the pancreatic cancer microenvironment was significantly decreased with CCK receptor antagonist therapy”.

Current medication testing was also considered positive: “the CCK receptor antagonist proglumide also altered tumor metalloprotease expression and increased tumor suppressor genes by a PCR array”.

These findings suggest that in the future, new and effective treatments based on reducing CCK levels could emerge, greatly improving medical care and management for cancer patients.

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