Scientists suggest that vitamin A may additionally have a position to play in tackling the commonest form of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most common of all pancreas cancer types, is extraordinarily competitive and very difficult to treat. Many scientists are currently investigating the genetic mutations and biochemical signalling pathways that enable most cancers cells to unfold to other body areas.
Vitamin A and Pancreatic Cancer
In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers from Imperial College London have taken a distinct method on the usage of cells inside the lab. They have investigated how mechanical changes in a collection of cells living within the immediate environment of the tumour, known as stellate cells, have an effect on the progression of PDAC. According to Dr Armando del Rio Hernandez, from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial, The survival rate of pancreatic cancer has remained relatively unchanged during the last 40 years, despite advances in conventional therapies targeting cancer cells. We’ve changed the focus from cancer cells to the cells that surround the tumour. We’ve combined traditional approaches to cancer biology with understanding the mechanics behind the progression of tumours. This could meet a pressing unmet clinical need in the UK and worldwide.
In a healthy pancreas, stellate cells exist as dormant, storing considerable supplies of vitamin A. But, as PDAC progresses, these stellate cells are activated in response to signals from the tumour, and lose their vitamin A content.
Activated stellate cells form a dense connective tissue around the tumour, that is used by most cancers cells to spread to other areas of the body. The tissue also limits the ability of most cancers-preventing medicines to reach the tumour.
In this new study, the researchers found out that it was okay to interchange pancreatic stellate cells, potentially stopping the formation of the tissue around the tumour, via a process concerning vitamin A.
In a healthy body, vitamin A is transformed into All-Trans-Retinoic Acid (ATRA), which enables adjustment of a couple of capabilities such as ordinary growth and development. While the researchers induced this method in cells inside the laboratory, ATRA switched off the forces that the stellate cells used to rework their surroundings. This decreased the fibrosis and also produced surroundings wherein it would be more hard for a pancreatic tumour to unfold.
The researchers cautioned that the study looked at the behaviour of cells within the laboratory and they do not have evidence that patients might gain from taking dietary supplements of vitamin A. Similarly further research is wanted including clinical trials. However, they accept that their new insights into the mechanisms of PDAC will help scientists to explore new possibilities for tackling the sickness.
According to Mr Antonios Chronopoulos, a postgraduate from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial and co-author of the study, Other research groups in the past have explored the idea of destroying the fibrotic tissue and stellate cells altogether to weaken the tumour. Our approach is much more subtle. Instead of destroying them, we simply want to revert the chronically activated stellate cells to a dormant state in an attempt to reduce fibrosis and reprogram the tumour microenvironment to a healthy state, thus suppressing the signals that spur cancer growth.