Major Discovery Offers New Hope in Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Published by Cédric - Friday, February 23, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Article Author: Cédric DEPOND
Source: Nature Cancer

A new therapeutic approach to treating metastatic pancreatic cancer appears to be emerging, according to a study published in Nature Cancer. Led by Professor Michael Schmid of the University of Liverpool and his colleagues, this research sheds light on the role of efferocytosis, the process of clearing dead cells, in the spread of pancreatic cancer to the liver.


Hepatic metastasis occurs in 40 to 50% of individuals with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC, the most common form of pancreatic cancer), and there is currently no effective treatment to cure patients with this disease. PDAC metastases have been observed with high levels of immunosuppressive macrophages, a type of white blood cell that promotes tumor growth.

The research team discovered that blocking the efferocytosis pathway during early metastasis prevented this immunosuppressive activity in macrophages, thereby restoring the activation of T-lymphocytes and reducing metastatic tumor burden.

Professor Michael Schmid, the lead author of the study, stated: "In pancreatic cancer, malignant tumor cells often spread to the liver. Our data show that creating a favorable 'nest' for metastasis in the liver is essential for the efficient growth of malignant cells at the distant site."

Dr. Yuliana Astuti, the first author of the study, added: "Using unique cellular technologies, we uncovered an underestimated diversity of macrophages in the hepatic metastases of pancreatic cancer. We identified that, in the liver, metastasis-associated macrophages exhibit opposing functions, with some displaying immunostimulatory characteristics and others immunosuppressive traits."

Professor Ainhoa Mielgo, a key contributor to the study, commented: "Pancreatic cancer is a highly aggressive type of cancer that often spreads to the liver. We currently have no effective treatment to cure patients with pancreatic cancer that presents hepatic metastases. These findings are very exciting as they reveal a targetable mechanism whereby pancreatic cancer cells spread and grow in the liver."

This study, a collaborative effort among scientists, medical oncologists, surgeons, and patients, opens new avenues for treating patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
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