A healthy pancreas contains cells that resemble more aggressive cancer cells

A team of researchers led by VUB Professor Ilse Rooman has discovered a cell in the pancreas of healthy people that closely resembles the cells of more aggressive pancreatic cancer. With this discovery, researchers hope to gain more insight into the development of this dangerous cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous types of cancer because 90% of patients die within five years. In recent years, the number of people with pancreatic cancer has increased. Musician Arno Heintens suffers from this type of cancer.

chronic infection

“We discovered a rare cell in the pancreas of healthy people that is very similar to the more aggressive group of tumors. The cells are more numerous in patients with chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which is a risk factor for cancer. Until now it was assumed that no such cells in the pancreas were present. How can we treat a tumor if we do not already know the perfectly healthy organ. This cell may be the origin of a particular pancreatic cancer subtype or at least teach us how this subtype develops, knowledge of which is indispensable for better detection and treatment,” says Professor Roman.

Only one cell out of 20,000 cells in a healthy pancreas shows very similar characteristics to cancer cells of the more aggressive subtype. In patients with chronic pancreatitis, which is a risk factor for tumor development, these cells are more common. The role of these cells has already been described in other organs where tumors of a similar subtype can develop. But in a healthy pancreas, its existence has so far been denied.

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never appeared before

Professor Dr. Roman announced the discovery of this rare cell. “We also could not find these cells in the most commonly used animal models. This may also explain why it is assumed that these cells are not present in the pancreas. However, these animal models were based on so far, probably useless, to study this type of tumor on specifically.”

Researchers are now beginning to grow human cells to reveal the role of these newly discovered cells in cancer. Roman: “We suspect that this new cell is the origin of the basal tumor subtype. If it later turns out that this is not the case, then studying these cells will provide more insights into the tumor subtype with the worst prognosis. It was detected earlier and treated more efficiently.”

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous types of cancer because 90% of patients die within five years. In recent years, the number of people with pancreatic cancer has increased. Musician Arno Hintens suffers from this type of cancer. “We have discovered a rare cell in the pancreas of healthy people that is very similar to a more aggressive group of tumors. The cells are increased in patients with chronic pancreatitis, which is a risk factor. Until now it was assumed that such cells in the pancreas do not exist. How can we treat The tumor if we do not already know the whole healthy organ? This cell may be the origin of a particular subtype of pancreatic cancer or at least learn how this subtype develops, knowledge that is indispensable for better detection and treatment,” says Professor Roman. Only one cell out of 20,000 cells in a healthy pancreas shows very similar characteristics to cancer cells of the more aggressive subtype. In patients with chronic pancreatitis, which is a risk factor for tumor development, these cells are more common. The role of these cells has already been described in other organs where tumors of a similar subtype can develop. But in a healthy pancreas, its existence has so far been denied. Roman announced the discovery of this rare cell. “We also were not able to find these cells in the most commonly used animal models. This may also explain why it is assumed that these cells are not present in the pancreas. However, these animal models were based on so far, probably not feasible, to study this type of tumor on Specifically.” Researchers are now beginning to culture human cells to reveal the role of these newly discovered cells in cancer. Roman: “We suspect that this new cell is the origin of the basal tumor subtype. If it later turns out that this is not the case, studying these cells will provide more insights into the tumor subtype with the worst prognosis. It was detected earlier and treated more efficiently.”

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