As researchers scramble to level the playing field for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, new findings out of a collaborative study may have unlocked the key to transforming pancreatic cancer cells back into normal, healthy cells. While much more research needs to be done before the finding can have merit in practice, the breakthrough is a huge ray of hope connected to a disease that often has a dismal survival rate.

The breakthrough research came out of a cooperative study performed by experts at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Purdue University and the University of California San Diego. Scientists involved in the study discovered that a particular protein, called E47, can reverse the effects of pancreatic cancer when it is introduced. This particular protein bonds with certain DNA sequences and forces them to revert back to their original state.

The initial findings of the collaborative study have prompted researchers to lay out the groundwork for further investigation into the protein’s effect on pancreatic cancer. The original findings involved the use of mice. The next step is to test how well E47 works on patient-derived patient tissue to see if it will produce similar results in humans.

While use of E47 in the treatment of pancreatic cancer remains for the future, the breakthrough is big news related to this disease that affects more than 40,000 Americans each year. Often diagnosed only in its later stages, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all known forms of cancer.

People who are concerned about pancreatic cancer risks are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. This disease has very few warning signs and can be quite difficult to detect in its earliest stages. Researchers, however, are working hard to advance not only the treatment of the disease, but also early detection protocols.