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Pancreatic Cancer Starts with Mutant Cells Affecting Ion Balance and Energy Production


Research Alert

Newswise — Rockville, Md. (July 26, 2023)—Mutant cells that initially resemble normal enzyme-producing cells drive the development of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study in the journal Function. One key distinction is that mutant cells might show altered physiological characteristics early on, per researchers from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Researchers also noted the presence of mutations that initiate cancer in the pancreas alters the ion balance and the production of energy in mutant cells. 

“Early carcinogenesis in the pancreas may affect physiological functions related to the production of enzymes that mediate the digestion of food, even before medical examination reveals the presence of cancer in pancreatic tissues,” said Monika Jakubowska, PhD, the first author of the study. 

The researchers investigated cells isolated from genetically engineered mice that had two mutations commonly present in pancreatic cancer in humans. The research was primarily focused on the physiology of cells present at the “clinically silent” stages of pancreatic cancer before the disease manifests itself. Although the mutated cells are structurally identical to normal cells, the study revealed that they had altered sensitivity to stimuli inducing the secretion of digestive enzymes. In addition, mutant cells were less efficient in maintaining intracellular calcium ion balance compared to normal cells. This was most likely due to decreased production of ATP, the main energy currency of the cell.

Read the full article, “Driver mutations of pancreatic cancer affect Ca2+ signaling and ATP production,” published ahead of print in Function.

Journal Link: Function


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