Li-Jyun Syu, Ph.D., Research Laboratory Specialist (Dlugosz laboratory), Department of Dermatology
This is a microscopic image of pre-cancer in a mouse pancreas. The green bubbly looking cells arranged in clusters are pre-cancerous cells. These cells secrete factors that recruit activated fibroblasts (red). The incoming fibroblasts closely surround the tumor cells and send messages back to the tumor cells to further promote tumor growth. An important goal of ongoing work is to understand the cell-to-cell communication that allows the pre-cancerous cells to recruit fibroblasts and the mechanisms by which these recruited fibroblasts reinforce tumor growth. Interestingly, there are hints that oral health and pancreatic cancer are linked. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of antibodies to certain strains of Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that causes gingivitis are at increased risk for pancreatic cancer. It is not clear yet whether the presence of P. gingivalis is a causative link to this cancer or an associated biomarker.