The molecular and cellular heterogeneity of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Dec 20;9(2):77-87. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2011.215.


Current standard therapies for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma have failed to attenuate the aggressiveness of this disease or confer notable improvements in survival. Previous molecular research into pancreatic cancers, along with advances in sequencing technologies, have identified many altered genes in patients with pancreatic cancer and revealed the marked genetic heterogeneity of individual tumors. Thus, the lack of success of conventional empiric therapy can be partly attributed to the underlying heterogeneity of pancreatic tumors. The genetic alterations that have been detected in pancreatic cancer range from simple mutations at the level of base pairs to complex chromosomal structural changes and rearrangements. The identification of molecular changes that are unique to an individual patient's tumors, and the subsequent development of strategies to target the tumors in a personalized approach to therapeutics, is a necessary advance to improve therapy for patients with this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • DNA, Neoplasm