Effects of cellular origin on the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths mostly due to the absence of symptoms as the cancer develops. This leads to diagnosis after the tumor has already become widely invasive and cannot be surgically removed. Unfortunately, surgical removal of early stage tumors is the most effective treatment option and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are woefully ineffective.
Thus, there are two major fronts where research could improve the outcomes of pancreatic cancer patients:
- early detection and
- more effective treatments. Early detection requires knowledge of the events associated with tumor development, while improving treatments requires a thorough understanding of pancreatic cancer. It is clear that a 'one-size-fits-all' strategy has largely been ineffective for pancreatic cancer. We hypothesize that this is partly because PDAC is a 'catch-all' diagnosis for tumors that look the same, but may have different properties due to differences during their development. Our research program seeks to identify these differences and ultimately leverage the differences to improve patient outcomes through the development of personalized treatments.