A team of scientists from the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center published a landmark paper in the journal Cell. The study, the result of an international collaborative effort, compared the proteins made by pancreatic cancer cells to the proteins made by normal cells in the pancreas. In so doing, the team defined the ways in which pancreatic cancer differs from normal. The team used the technology called “mass spectrometry” to characterize the proteins, glycoproteins (proteins with sugar molecules added onto the proteins), and phosphoproteins (proteins with phosphate molecules added). Many thousands of proteins were identified, and the results deposited in publicly available databases for other researchers to use.

Why is this study important? The study is important for three reasons.

  • First, many of the known cancer markers are glycoproteins. The discovery of glycoproteins made at high levels therefore identifies potential new pancreatic cancer markers.
  • Second, some phosphoproteins are targetable therapeutically. The discovery of phosphoproteins made at high levels in pancreatic cancer cells therefore identifies a number of potential new targets for therapy.
  • Third, the database is huge and will be shared freely. It is hoped that scientists will take advantage of it for years to come.

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