Role of insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein 3 (IGF2BP3) in neural and vascular invasion in pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic cancer is the most deadly solid organ tumour with a typical life expectancy of 3-6 months following initial diagnosis. Prognosis is poor because this cancer has often invaded surrounding nerves and major blood vessels at the time of diagnosis, therefore rendering it inoperable. Invasion of nerves by pancreatic cancer cells is also a major cause of pain in patients. In order to improve prognosis, a better understanding of how pancreatic cancer invades surrounding tissues is warranted.

Dr. Ng’s group previously reported very high levels of a molecule called insulin-like growth factor-2 mRNA binding protein 3 (IGF2BP3) in pancreatic cancer tissues from over 100 patients but not in normal pancreas tissues. More importantly, patients with pancreatic tumours that express high levels of IGF2BP3 were found to have shorter survival time than those with tumours that do not express IGF2BP3 (see attached publication). We further discovered that IGF2BP3 promotes pancreatic cancer cells’ ability to invade extracellular matrix in vitro (unpublished data).

The aims of the current proposal are two-fold:

1) To study the mechanisms by which IGF2BP3 invades nerve tissues and blood vessels, and

2) To determine whether blocking the action of IGF2BP3 can halt invasion and result in tumour control.


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