Researching the cures


Professor Hemant Kocher

Professor Hemant Kocher is investigating the thick scar-like tissue that surrounds pancreatic tumours, called the stroma, which prevents chemotherapy from reaching the tumour inside. The stroma is formed by specialised cells called pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs). He has identified a way to potentially allow chemotherapy to be more effective with pancreatic cancer, and this will involve a deeper understanding of the cells that help to form the stroma.

Project Title:

Retinoic acid regulation of pancreatic stellate cell phenotype

Project aims:

The thick scar-like tissue coating pancreatic tumours which prevents chemotherapy from working well is formed by specialised cells called pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs). Healthy PSCs store vitamin A, but in pancreatic cancer, PSCs lose their vitamin A stores and start laying down scar tissue.

Prof Kocher has found that replenishing vitamin A stores in these cells can make them change back to  normal, enabling chemotherapy to work better. This project will investigate how vitamin A affects the ‘genetic machinery’ of PSCs to enable this beneficial change.

The long-term aim of this project is to discover new biomarkers which can diagnose pancreatic cancer early as well as monitor effectiveness of its treatment.