Project title: Anti-Histamines as Novel Therapeutics in Pancreatic Cancer
Project aims: Histamine is a natural compound released by special immune cells in our bodies called mast cells in response to germs or bacteria that could cause disease. Histamine causes the localised itch after a nettle sting and other allergic reactions such as hay fever. These reactions can be calmed with antihistamine medicines.
Mast cells are also present in the pancreas and can release histamine to help drive cancer growth. There is some evidence that people who take long term antihistamine medication have a better chance of surviving pancreatic cancer.
Professor Peter McCormick, in collaboration with Prof. Richard Grose at the Bart’s Cancer Institute and Prof. Paul Insel at the University of San Diego will examine histamine’s chemical messages within pancreatic cancer cells, and investigate whether – and how – antihistamine drugs might prevent the growth of cancer cells.
If this approach is successful, it may be possible to rapidly repurpose antihistamine drugs as a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.