Blocking Fibroblast Activation Protein (FAP) in Normal Cells May Impede Pancreatic Cancer, Penn Vet Team Shows

Cancer of the pancreas is a deadly disease, with a median survival time of less than six months. Only one in 20 people with pancreatic cancer survives five years past the diagnosis. The reason is the cancer's insidiousness; tumor cells hide deep inside the body, betraying no symptoms until late in the disease, when the cancer has almost invariably spread to other organs. New findings from a University of Pennsylvania-led team offer a promising target for future therapies that could potentially root out even well-hidden metastatic cancer lesions. When they deleted the gene encoding this protein in mice with the disease, the animals lived longer, and the cancer's spread to other organs was reduced. "We thought that by targeting this protein we would see a big change in the primary tumor, and, while we do see a delay, the big change was in the metastasis," said Dr. Ellen Puré, the study's senior author and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Science in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine. "It looks like this protein might be a druggable target, so we're hoping that with some additional follow-up work, it's something that we'll see go into patients." Dr. Puré collaborated on the work with Penn Vet's Drs. Albert Lo, Elizabeth L. Buza, Rachel Blomberg, Priya Govindaraju, Diana Avery, and James Monslow; Dr. Chung-Pin Li of Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine; and Dr. Michael Hsiao of the Academia Sinica Genomics Research Center in Taipei. Their paper was published online on October 5, 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight. The open-access article is titled “Fibroblast Activation Protein Augments Progression and Metastasis of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.”
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