Molecular signature of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: An insight from genotype to phenotype and challenges for targeted therapy

Ibrahim H. Sahin, Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue, Eileen M. Oreilly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Introduction: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma remains one of the most clinically challenging cancers despite an in-depth characterization of the molecular underpinnings and biology of this disease. Recent whole-genome-wide studies have elucidated the diverse and complex genetic alterations which generate a unique oncogenic signature for an individual pancreatic cancer patient and which may explain diverse disease behavior in a clinical setting.Areas covered: In this review article, we discuss the key oncogenic pathways of pancreatic cancer including RAS-MAPK, PI3KCA and TGF-β signaling, as well as the impact of these pathways on the disease behavior and their potential targetability. The role of tumor suppressors particularly BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and their role in pancreatic cancer treatment are elaborated upon. We further review recent genomic studies and their impact on future pancreatic cancer treatment.Expert opinion: Targeted therapies inhibiting pro-survival pathways have limited impact on pancreatic cancer outcomes. Activation of pro-apoptotic pathways along with suppression of cancer-stem-related pathways may reverse treatment resistance in pancreatic cancer. While targeted therapy or a precision medicine approach in pancreatic adenocarcinoma remains an elusive challenge for the majority of patients, there is a real sense of optimism that the strides made in understanding the molecular underpinnings of this disease will translate into improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-359
Number of pages19
JournalExpert opinion on therapeutic targets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 3 2016


  • K-Ras pathway
  • Wnt signaling
  • cancer stem cells
  • expression signature
  • molecular pathways
  • notch signaling
  • p53
  • pancreatic cancer
  • targeted treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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