Narrator: This is Science Today. Pancreatic cancer is a common and deadly disease that is also difficult to detect. But new research at the University of California, San Francisco, has put investigators one step closer to understanding how the disease develops.
Hebrok: What our work has been showing is that molecules and signals that are required for the formation of tissue can be reactivated as part of an injury and that reactivation can take a cell and turn it into a cancer cell.
Narrator: UCSF researcher Matthias Hebrok explains that when the pancreas is inflamed it over-produces two molecular signals that help initiate the early stages of cancer. This discovery could lead to new diagnostic tools that would enable doctors to identify and even treat the disease earlier.
Hebrok: Once we understand the totality of the system, I think we have a much better idea of what our enemy truly is. And I believe it will also reveal to us the Achilles heel of this tumor.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.