Prion protein identified as a novel early pancreatic cancer biomarker

Aug 17, 2009

Mad cow disease is caused by the accumulation of an abnormal protein, the prion, in the brain of an affected patient. Outside of the brain, very little is known about prions. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, researchers have, for the first time, identified the prion as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers in humans; the five year survival rate is less than 10 percent.

Chaoyang Li, Ph.D., Wei Xin, M.D., and professor of pathology, Man-Sun Sy, Ph.D., discovered the mechanism by which prions causes tumors to grow more aggressively. They published these findings in the September issue of the .

Unlike normal cells, in human pancreatic cells the prion is incompletely processed and binds to a molecule inside the cell known as filamin A. Filamin A is an important regulator of the cell's skeleton and its signaling machineries. The binding of the incompletely processed prion to filamin A disrupts the cell's organization and signaling. As a result, the tumor grow more aggressively. On the other hand, when the prion level is reduced, the tumor cell loses its ability to grow in tissue culture and in animals. Most importantly, Dr. Li, et al. found that a subpopulation of patients had incompletely processed prion protein in their pancreatic cancer. This subgroup of patients had significantly shorter survival compared to patients whose tumors do not have prion.

According to Dr. Sy, "Currently there is no early diagnostic marker for . Detection of the incompletely processed prion may provide such a marker. Preventing the binding of prion to filamin A may open new avenues for therapeutic intervention of this deadly disease."

Next, Drs. Li and Sy will look to determine if this type of protein expression is seen in other types of cancer.

Source: Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

Explore further: How a common antacid could lead to cheaper anti-cancer drugs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Prions show their good side

May 07, 2008

Prions, the infamous agents behind mad cow disease and its human variation, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, also have a helpful side. According to new findings from Gerald Zamponi and colleagues, normally functioning prions prevent ...

New prion protein may offer insight into mad cow disease

Aug 16, 2007

Scientists have discovered a new protein that may offer fresh insights into brain function in mad cow disease. “Our team has defined a second prion protein called ‘Shadoo’, that exists in addition to the well-known ...

Mutant proteins result in infectious prion disease in mice

Dec 05, 2008

A worldwide group of scientists has created an infectious prion disease in a mouse model, in a step that may help unravel the mystery of this progressive disease that affects the nervous system in humans and animals. The ...

New prion protein may offer insight into mad cow disease

Aug 22, 2007

Scientists have discovered a new protein that may offer fresh insights into brain function in mad cow disease. Research led by Dr. David Westaway has led to the first discovery since 1985 of a new brain prion protein.

Prion propagates in foreign host

Jul 05, 2007

Prions -- infectious, oddly-folded proteins that are the main suspects in fatal neurodegenerative diseases such as Cruetzfeldt-Jakob and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow" -- remain mostly a mystery to scientists. ...

Recommended for you

How a common antacid could lead to cheaper anti-cancer drugs

2 hours ago

A popular indigestion medication can increase survival in colorectal cancer, according to research published in ecancermedicalscience. But in fact, scientists have studied this for years - and a group of cancer advocates want t ...

Vaccines may make war on cancer personal

2 hours ago

In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at Washington University ...

Funding to investigate an alternative to chemotherapy

3 hours ago

Professor Simon Rule, Professor in Haematology at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Consultant Haematologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, has been awarded a significant grant by Cancer ...

Enzyme may be key to cancer progression in many tumors

3 hours ago

Mutations in the KRAS gene have long been known to cause cancer, and about one third of solid tumors have KRAS mutations or mutations in the KRAS pathway. KRAS promotes cancer formation not only by driving ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.