Viewpoints / Position Papers
Important genetic changes in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center collaborated to publish a study in the prestigious journal Science in
January 2011. Contributors to this paper include Anirban Maitra, PhD,
recipient of a 2004 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network - AACR Career
Development Award, and Ralph Hruban, MD, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Scientific Advisory Board member. This work focuses on identifying key
genetic changes in a rare form of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic
neuroendocrine (also known as islet cell) cancer.
For more information about pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, please click
here. These tumors represent less than five percent
of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses, and typically have a longer survival
rate than the more commonly diagnosed form, pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Genetic analyses of 68 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors revealed that
mutations in three genes were significant to patient survival. Researchers
found that when the genes MEN-1, DAXX, and ATRX were mutated, patients lived
approximately ten years after diagnosis. By contrast, about 60 percent of
patients without those mutations passed away within five years of diagnosis.
This knowledge can enhance scientists' focus on developing novel
therapeutics tailored specifically for individual patients' genetic changes.
In addition, these studies showed that another gene, mTOR, is mutated in 14
percent of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. There are clinically available
drugs that target mTOR, suggesting that these treatment options may be
effective for specific pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer patients. Further
clinical trials are necessary.
Click here for a link to the scientific abstract.
Click here for the Johns Hopkins press release regarding this study.
For more information about pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, or other
questions related to pancreatic cancer treatment or diagnosis, please
contact a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Patient and Liaison Services
(PALS) Associate toll-free at 877-272-6226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. PALS
Associates are available M-F 7am-5pm Pacific Time.