Nabeel Bardeesy, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital

Elucidation and Targeting of Epigenetic Reprogramming Pathways in Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer stem cells, which exist in a small population in every cancer, have the ability to divide unlimitedly, fail to differentiate, are more resistant to chemotherapy, difficult to eradicate and are a cause of metastases and cancer recurrence. The current curative procedures for pancreatic cancer include surgical removal, which is only effective in patients with early stages of the disease.

Dr. Bardeesy has found that the regulatory proteins called histone demethylases that are found in the pancreas can contribute to cancer stem cell growth. Using a mouse model for human pancreatic cancer, he found conditions to alter histone demethylases causing pancreatic cancer stem cells to be converted to the more common chemosensitive cancer cells. He has found that the histone demethylases are a great target for drugs to treat pancreatic cancer because of the abnormal behavior of histone demethylases in those with cancer. Dr. Bardeesy's research will also attempt to further elucidate the roles of these types of enzymes and how they function abnormally to alter gene function in pancreatic cancer.