Research led by scientists at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center provides new insights into molecular “crosstalk” in pancreas cancer cells. 

The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, identifies vulnerabilities that could provide a target for therapeutic drugs already being studied for several different types of cancer. It was led by Dr. Caius Radu, a UCLA professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, and Dr. Timothy Donahue, a pancreatic cancer surgeon.

The study centered on an immune system signaling molecule that impairs the proliferation of cancer cells in lab studies but tends to have the opposite effect in clinical practice, where tumor cells adapt to them and often become resistant to treatment.

Results suggest that new small-molecule drugs that inhibit a protein called ATR, which plays an important role in the signaling pathway, and are being studied for the treatment of several cancers, could be used in combination with interferon “amplification” to thwart the tumor cells’ ability to escape.

Read the full news release.