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Nature Communications

“Super-enhancer” super-charges pancreatic tumor growth

Pancreatic cancers are among the most aggressive, deadly tumor types, and for years researchers have struggled to develop effective drugs against the tumors. Now, Professor Ronald Evans, first author Corina Antal, and colleagues have identified a new set of molecules that fuel the growth of tumors in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most common type of pancreatic cancer. The new research explains how certain gene mutations trigger out-of-control growth in pancreatic cancer by activating a “super-enhancer” that turns on other genes. They also show the effectiveness of a new drug that puts the brakes on pancreatic cancer growth by blocking the effects of that super-enhancer.

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Cell Reports

High-fat diets alter gut bacteria, boosting colorectal cancer risk in mice

The prevalence of colorectal cancer in people under the age of 50 has risen in recent decades. One suspected reason: the increasing rate of obesity and high-fat diets. Now, Professor Ronald Evans, co-first author Ting Fu, and colleagues, in collaboration with UC San Diego, discovered exactly how high-fat diets can change gut bacteria and alter digestive molecules called bile acids, predisposing mice to colorectal cancer. The findings help scientists better understand colorectal cancer and how to potentially prevent it.

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