Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Novel anti-cancer therapy

A European study developed an interesting strategy for treating cancer by inducing cancer stem cells to differentiate.
Novel anti-cancer therapy
Organ development or organogenesis is an intricately controlled process that involves a balance between progenitor cell renewal and differentiation. The cell turnover and regenerative potential of progenitor cells resembles cancer. Therefore, understanding the molecular cues of pro-differentiation decision in normal tissues could help comprehend what drives cancer onset and progression.

The scope of the EU-funded RESVERATROL ROLES (Resveratrol-induced molecular markers in cancer and progenitor cells proliferation) project was to develop novel anti-cancer treatments using natural and chemical substances to increase the pro-differentiation effect. Their working hypothesis was that cancer stem cells possess common features with stem cells of the tissue of origin, but their differentiation capacity is perturbed.

Researchers set out to characterise and compare the molecular signature of pancreatic cancer stem cells (PCSC) with normal cells and identify the molecular players of pancreatic cancer.

Scientists performed microarray studies and searched for prognostic biomarkers through a robust bioinformatics approach. The identified markers were used for conventional drug screening with and without the plant polyphenol compound resveratrol.

Furthermore, they identified a novel gene (Nepn) that marked pancreas organogenesis associated with the epithelial mesenchymal transition. Pancreatic cells expressing Nepn proved to have stem cell properties and their gene regulatory network resembled that of PCSCs.

Overall, the RESVERATROL ROLES study supports other reports on the association of carcinogenesis with molecular alterations of endogenous tissue homeostasis. The disclosed gene regulatory network may prove amenable to new diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.

Related information

Keywords

Cancer, organogenesis, progenitor cell, pancreatic stem cell, Nepn, gene regulatory network
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