The pancreas, which is situated behind the stomach, controls our body’s energy flow. It accomplishes this by secreting proteins (enzymes) that ensure the proper amount and timing of glucose, the body’s primary fuel, reaching other organs. The so-called acinar cells, which make up 85% of the pancreas and whose specific functions are still being studied, are where these proteins are created.
A new element related to the functioning of acinar cells and the processes that are involved in the formation of pancreatic tumors has been discovered by a group led by Francisco X. Real, head of the Epithelial Carcinogenesis Group at the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). Isidoro Cobo, a researcher at CNIO, is the lead author of their work, which was published in Nature Communications.
Scientists have found that a molecule known as NFIC is vital to the proper functioning of acinar cells. This finding will assist us with understanding what happens when normal processes fail, and cancer or other lesions develop.
As of recently, it was realized that NFIC takes part in the development of teeth and in the progressions that happen during lactation in the mammary glands, and that it likewise limits the enactment of certain genes that can cause specific breast tumours, yet we were ignorant that it had a capability in the pancreas. This work plays pinpointed its part for acinar cells to work appropriately at full capacity.
“The most important thing is that NFIC belongs to a family of proteins that had not been involved in the physiology of the pancreas until now,” Real stresses.
According to the publication, when NFIC is deactivated, the acinar cells do not mature appropriately, the pancreas can respond poorly to damage, and it is more likely to start the formation of tumors.
Pancreatic cancer is the third most deadly kind of disease in Spain (the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology registered in excess of 7,663 deaths in 2021). With fast development and a high probability of metastasis, the standard treatment is surgery.
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