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EGFR Essential for the Development of Pancreatic Cancer

September 15, 2011

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•    Despite KRAS, lack of EGFR blocks pancreatic cancer development.
•    EGFR plays an “unappreciated” central role early in the carcinogenic process.

SAN FRANCISCO — The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene is essential for KRAS-driven pancreatic cancer development, according to study results presented at the Second AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research, held here Sept. 14-18, 2011.

The mutation of the KRAS gene has been found to be an important component in the development of many cancers, including pancreatic cancer. However, Barbara M. Gruener, researcher at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, said that despite the presence of KRAS, the development of preneoplastic precursor lesions and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is blocked without the EGF receptor.

“These results revealed an unappreciated central role of EGFR very early in the carcinogenic process,” said Gruener, who is a doctoral student at the university.

Gruener and colleagues compared more than 40 mice with the pancreas-specific deletion of EGFR with the KRAS mouse model for pancreatic cancer.

“Contrary to current opinion, we showed that lack of EGFR blocks the development of pancreatic cancer,” she said. “Originally, we wanted to characterize the known role of EGFR in pancreatic cancer to a higher extent so that EGFR targeted therapy could be more individualized.”

Gruener said the results were not what researchers had expected and were surprising.

“With oncogenic active KRAS, you would expect that the lack of a receptor that is upstream of the KRAS signaling pathway does not impair the carcinogenic effects of KRAS almost completely,” she said.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Discovery; Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals received 20 percent of the total number of citations given to oncology journals in 2010.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267) 646-0557
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In San Francisco, Sept. 14-18:
(415) 229-2767

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