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MicroRNA profiling in pancreatic stellate cells: validation and assessment of potential to predict response to treatment

Recipient: Professor Eithne Costello

Host Institution: University of Liverpool

Title: MicroRNA profiling in pancreatic stellate cells: validation and assessment of potential to predict response to treatment

Type of award: 2014 Research Innovation Fund

Funding: £66,400

Star shaped cells, called pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are an essential component of the pancreatic cancer tumour microenvironment, undergoing activation in response to damage to the pancreas. MicroRNAs are key regulatory molecules that control entire intracellular pathways. Their role in PSCs or in pancreatic fibrosis is poorly understood.

Over the past 18 months we have cultured PSCs from patients with pancreatic cancer, periampullary cancer, chronic pancreatitis and as control, normal pancreas. We are now scheduled to profile the levels of 1733 miRNAs and downstream mRNAs from these PSCs. Once miRNAs that are altered with PSC activation are identified, they will be verified, using PSCs grown alone or in 3D cultures with cancer cells and in human pancreas cancer tissue samples.

Finally, we will seek preliminary data on the ability of PSC miRNAs to provide information on the likelihood to respond to chemotherapy. Novel validated micro-RNA expression data from the pancreatic cancer tumour microenvironment arising from this project will be used to support applications for functional analysis. Data on candidate miRNAs predictive of response to treatment will support proposals for their validation using standardised samples obtained from large clinical trials.