Houston: Researchers, including those from India, are aiming to develop drugs that will allow physicians to prolong patient survival and possibly, even eradicate the deadly pancreatic cancer by targeting specific proteins.
"Our research on the role of Liver X receptors (LXR), or LXRs, in pancreatic cancer cells points to a promising target and strategy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer," said cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin, an assistant professor with the University of Houston Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS).
"We examined the levels of LXRs in patient tumour samples and studied the effects of candidate drug compounds targeting LXRs on cultured pancreatic cancer cells. Liver X receptors are important regulators of cholesterol, glucose metabolism and inflammatory response modulation," Lin said.
Another goal is to test the effects of the drugs on pancreatic tumors in murine models that are very similar to those found in humans.
Ultimately, they plan to use the knowledge from these studies to develop better drugs to target LXRs in pancreatic cancer, as well as other types of malignancies.
The research team has already carried out some preliminary studies of LXR expression in patient tumour samples and is preparing to analyze more samples.
Recent studies showed that chemical compounds targeting LXRs can slow the growth of tumors in murine models transplanted with human tumour cells.
"Our findings point to a class of receptors that can be precisely targeted by drug compounds and are expected to stimulate both basic and translational research on their functions and application as a drug target," Lin said.
"Long-term goals are to develop additional drug compounds and clinical testing in human subjects, which will require several more years of research," Lin added.
A number of students participated in these studies, including PhD students Sridevi Addanki and Husna Karaboga Lakshmi Reddy Bollu.
Their research was funded by Golfers Against Cancer and a pilot study grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).