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A biological “Time Machine” with human cells can help reverse cancer

When you can’t stop what’s coming, sometimes you can start over.

This seems to be the strategy in a new experimental treatment for early-stage pancreatic cancer, which includes a new “time machine” from Purdue University that reverses the progress of the cancer before it spreads to the whole body, according to a new study published in the journal Chip lab.

And depending on how further research progresses, it can be applied through gene therapy.

Early-stage pancreatic cancer has a ‘reset button’

“These findings open up the possibility of designing a new gene therapy or drug, as we can now get cancer cells back to normal,” said Professor Bumsu Khan of Purdue’s mechanical engineering, who is also the program manager at the University Cancer Research Center. , in a blog post shared on the university’s official website. Khan also received a polite assignment in biomedical engineering, according to the publication. The new time machine (figuratively speaking) from Khan’s laboratory is a realistic reproduction of a specific structure of the pancreas called the acinus, which secretes and produces digestive enzymes in the small intestine. When cancer strikes the pancreas, it usually comes from chronic inflammation, which is caused by a mutation that causes digestive enzymes to begin to digest the pancreas itself. This is bad.

However, if there was a way to turn the clocks back and reprogram the cancer acinar cells that generate these enzymes, this could be reset. the condition of the pancreas. For a decade, Purdue Professor Stephen Koniecni of the Department of Biological Sciences has been thoroughly researching the viability of this powerful rest button. No, it’s not a speech, it’s really that simple, the whole trick is focused on a gene called PTF1a. “The PTF1a gene is absolutely critical for the normal development of the pancreas,” Konieczny said in the publication. “If you’re missing the PTF1a gene, you’re not developing a pancreas. So, our whole idea was, if we re-insert the PTF1a gene into a pancreatic cancer cell, what happens? Are we going to reverse the cancer phenotype?”

The new treatment for early-stage pancreatic cancer may use gene therapy

“Really, that’s exactly what’s happening,” Konetzny said in response. He worked with Khan’s laboratory to study these findings in several studies of molecular biology, testing the work in a realistic model of the acinus. In other words, these scientists tested a biological time machine and it worked. Tests for promising treatment for pancreatic cancer are usually given first to animals, but it can take months for the disease to occur in these creatures. Develop a way to research and developing cancer treatments the microenvironment that mimics the physical organ affected by the disease is realistic enough, saving months or more of development time, in addition to providing scientists with unprecedented control over the model.

It is amazing that the new model overcomes the essential challenge of accurately capturing the anatomical complexity of the acinus, which is a circular cavity lined with living cells. “From an engineering point of view, creating this kind of three-dimensional cavity is not trivial,” Hahn said in the publication. “So finding a way to build this cavity is an innovation in itself.” The model is a postage stamp-sized glass platform placed on a microscope slide and has two interconnected cameras. Scientists fill a chamber with collagen solution, which in turn fills the finger-shaped canal of the pancreas. This in turn swells and expands to generate the structural cavity of the acinus, in the second chamber. While this indescribably inspired work brings a new way to reverse pancreatic cancer before it’s too late, Khan and his team are currently exploring the potential for treatment. through gene therapy.





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