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A pathway to therapeutic destruction

Pancreatic cancers contain defective apoptotic pathways, making the tumor cells resistant to current chemotherapy regimes. But, in the August issue of Gut, Detjen and colleagues from the Humboldt University, Berlin show that there is still an intact proapoptotic pathway in pancreatic cancer cells activated by interferon ? (IFN-?) and/or procaspase-1 which may have therapeutic potential.

Detjen et al. found that treatment with IFN-? of four human pancreatic cancer cell lines profoundly inhibited growth of cancer cells. Cell cycle analyses revealed subdiploid cells suggesting apoptosis, which was confirmed by demonstration of DNA fragmentation. Apoptosis was preceded by upregulation of procaspase-1 and the caspase inhibitor z-vad-fmk completely prevented IFN-? apoptotic effects (Gut 2001, 49:251-262).

Understanding of the prevalent defects in cell cycle control as well as detection of intact proapoptotic pathways in cancer cells may help to define new anti-tumoral strategies.


  1. Detjen KM, Farwig K, Welzel M, Wiedenmann B, Rosewicz S: Interferon ? inhibits growth of human pancreatic carcinoma cells via caspase-1 dependent induction of apoptosis. Gut 2001, 49:251-262. , []

  2. Humboldt University, []

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Toma, T. A pathway to therapeutic destruction. Genome Biol 2, spotlight-20010816-01 (2001).

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