October 18, 2019
The chemotherapy gemcitabine is among the most effective pancreatic cancer therapies, yet nearly all patients fail to respond or quickly develop resistance. A recent Cancer Research paper highlights work by the Hemann lab, in collaboration with the Vander Heiden group, to better understand how pancreatic tumor stroma—prominent fibrotic tissue that surrounds the tumor— limits gemcitabine response. Their findings implicate a metabolite known as deoxycytidine, which is secreted by stromal cells called pancreatic stellate cells, and inhibits gemcitabine processing in tumor cells. Their work suggests that reducing deoxycytidine production in the stellate cells may increase the efficacy of gemcitabine and similar therapies. This work was supported in part by a David H. Koch fellowship and the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine; KI members Jacqueline Lees and Doug Lauffenburger are also senior authors. Read more.