Researchers have identified a protein that may aid in developing an effective treatment option for pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (2010;285[45]:34729-34740).

For their study, a team from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center focused on making a drug that blocked a gene called KRAS, a gene that triggers cancer cell growth.

Over a 5-year period, the team identified a protein called RGL2 and demonstrated that the protein was overexpressed. As a result, the researchers labeled RGL2 as an attractive target for stopping the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors not only in the laboratory, but also in tissue taken from patients with pancreatic cancer.

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“We are particularly optimistic about RGL2 because we know that this protein is a critical component of KRAS signaling to another class of protein called Ral GTPases, which are essential for the growth of almost all pancreatic tumors,” commented Channing Der, PhD, who led the research. “Our work makes us optimistic that our new understanding of this pathway can lead to a therapeutic impact for the cancer patient.”