Scientists identify its role as a prognostic indicator in pancreatic cancer.
International researchers detected a gene that plays a key role in the prognosis of pancreatic cancer, opening up new avenues for treatment.
The team identified that the HAPLN1 protein potentiates peritoneal metastasis in pancreatic cancer, the deadliest with a five-year survival rate of just 12%.
Metastasis is the process by which tumor cells escape from primary (initial) tumors and generate tumors in other organs.
Metastasis in the peritoneum is a very severe complication that usually leads to resistance to therapies and other complications that greatly reduce the quality of life of patients.
According to the new study, a greater presence of the HAPLN1 protein in tumors could predict which patients are more predisposed to suffering from this type of metastasis, which opens up new options for the study of treatments and strategies to block it and, with it, reduce the so-called peritoneal carcinomatosis.
The results can significantly impact the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with pancreatic cancer, since the expression of HAPLN1 could be used to identify patients who need more exhaustive follow-up or even different treatments, said the Príncipe Felipe Research Center ( CIPF) in Spain, who led the study.
Research also shows that the presence of the HAPLN1 protein increases the versatility of tumor cells, which facilitates metastasis because these cells can adapt to new environments other than the primary tumor.
The next step will also be to study the role of HAPLN1 in other abdominal cancers such as ovarian cancer.
This is a study that includes patient samples, which increases the validity of the results and also explores the molecular mechanisms, which makes it possible to establish a cause-and-effect phenomenon in the results, according to Juan Rodríguez Vita, leader of the research together with Francesca By Angelis Rigotti.
For his part, De Angelis pointed out that the study confirms that such a small change in the extracellular matrix can greatly increase malignancy.
The study was carried out in collaboration with the German Cancer Research Center, the University of Göttingen; the Technical University of Munich and the University of Barcelona.