London: Scientists have identified a gene that slows the spread of pancreatic cancer tumours, a finding they say could lead to new targeted treatments for the deadliest disease. An international team of researchers found that the gene, called USP9x, is switched off in some pancreatic cancer cells mice. But when turned on, the gene stops cancerous cells from dividing uncontrollably, the researchers said. The gene is not mutated, but other proteins and chemicals become stuck to it and turn the gene off. Drugs having the potential to turn the gene back on can help stop the spread of the fifth most deadly cancer that affects nearly 8,000 people in the UK alone every year. Prof David Tuveson, of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, said: "We suspected that the fault wasn`t in the genetic code at all, but in the chemical tags on the surface of the DNA that switch genes on and off, and by running more lab tests we were able to confirm this.
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