Pancreatic cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths, is projected to be the second by the year 2030, according to a study in the journal of Cancer Research. The five-year survival rate is only 8 percent, making it the only major cancer with a survival rate in the single digits. Despite rising mortality rates, pancreatic cancer is under-researched and under-funded, and there are few Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments to combat the disease. With the current pipeline for drug discovery taking 10 to 15 years from the laboratory to use, and an estimated 41,780 who will die from the disease this year alone, time is of the essence. Now, patients suffering from pancreatic cancer may soon face better treatment options due to the latest discovery by Dr. Reginald Hill (photo), Archibald Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at the University of Notre Dame and researcher at the Harper Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Hill's research focuses on drugs that are already approved by the FDA to find out why those drugs are not working in patients with pancreatic cancer. The new work was published online on September 26, 2016 in Oncogene. The article is titled “Cancer-Associated Fibroblast Exosomes Regulate Survival and Proliferation of Pancreatic Cancer Cells.” "The bulk of a pancreatic cancer tumor is made of approximately 10 percent cancer cells and 90 percent supporting cells. Somehow, the supporting cells have figured out how to survive the chemotherapy," Dr. Hill said.
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