The well-known biochemist Mariano Barbacid has called this morning to the media to announce that his team “has been able to eliminate for the first time” in mice the most common pancreatic cancers. They are the most lethal tumors that hit humans: only 5% of patients survive five years after diagnosis. “I’m very worried about giving false hope. I want to make it very clear that it will not be useful for people who currently have pancreatic cancer, “he said at a massive press conference in Madrid. “What it does is open new doors,” he underlined.
In more than 95% of cases, the initiating mutation of pancreatic human tumors appears in KRAS, a gene that under normal conditions would precisely prevent cell proliferation. Since its discovery in 1982, the scientific community has published some 36,000 research on this gene and its relationship with cancer, but there is still no drug to inhibit its activity when it goes wild. “Either we are incompetent or it is complicated”, joked Barbacid, of the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), in Madrid.