Narrator: This is Science Today. Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed late, so the median survival is in the range of four months after diagnosis, so not only is it incurable, it is also very rapid. That's why researchers like Matthias Hebrok of the University of California, San Francisco, are studying the development and growth of this lethal malignancy.
Hebrok: The prognosis is probably one of the worst that you can get. So for us to understand what makes the tumor grow and what molecules it depends on for full growth and survival potentially increases our arsenal of weapons we can throw at this cancer and hopefully combat it.
Narrator: Hebrok helped discover a link between a cell signaling pathway present during embryonic development and pancreatic cancer and that the pathway could be blocked by a molecule isolated by plants called cyclopamine.
Hebrok: So by just adding cyclopamine to those pancreatic cancer cell lines, we could ask the question if the inhibition of the pathway changes the fate of those cells.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.