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Mayo announces breakthrough in study of pancreatic cancer

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Mayo Clinic researchers in Florida on Monday unveiled new insight into chronic inflammation of the pancreas – pancreatitis – and how it turns into pancreatic cancer.

They say their findings eventually could help identify pancreatitis patients who are at risk of pancreatic cancer, and ultimately, identify potential drug therapies that might reverse the process, Rochester-based Mayo says.

The study "maps how inflammation pushes acinar cells in the pancreas — those that produce digestive enzymes — to transform into duct-like cells. As these cells change, they can acquire mutations that can result in further progression to pancreatic cancer," Mayo biochemist and molecular biologist and senior study author Peter Storz said, Mayo reported.

"We hope that at some point we can either understand that mechanism better to develop early detection methods, or that we can use the inhibitors, which work in mice, some day in humans," Storz told MPR.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of Cell Biology.

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