Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer with a 5-year survival rate of less than 5% and obesity has been recognised among the principal risk factors. Since the molecular mechanisms that lead to the aggressive nature of this form of cancer are poorly understood, the aim of the project is to explore further the role of Gα15, whose involvement in pancreatic cancer has been recently demonstrated, by exploring its link with insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 molecules that become more bioavailable in the context of obesity. The project has been supported with £9000 from the medical research funding charity Friends of Anchor for a 12 month project, which will begin in July 2017. Dr Sara Zanini is leading and will be working alongside researchers Dr Giovanna Bermano and Dr Francesco Giovinazzo from NHS Grampian.
In 2013, more than 9000 new cases of pancreatic cancer were registered in UK and in 2014 8800 deaths were recorded. Therefore it is clear that there is an urgent need to identify new factors potentially involved in the pancreatic cancer transformation process that could represent a first step towards the development of new target therapies. By confirming the role of Ga15, we hope to identify a subgroup of patients expressing Gα15 that may benefit from the development of a new drug improving their chances of treatment success.