The Kras gene is mutated to an oncogenic form in most pancreatic tumors. However, early attempts to use this molecule as a specific biomarker of the disease, or inhibit its activity as a cancer therapy, failed. This left a situation in which everyone was aware of the association between this important oncogene and pancreatic cancer, but no one knew what to do about it. Recent findings have changed this picture-many assumptions made about KRAS and its role in pancreatic cancer were found to be incorrect. Several factors have contributed to increased understanding of the activities of KRAS, including creation of genetically engineered mouse models, which have allowed for detailed analyses of pancreatic carcinogenesis in an intact animal with a competent immune system. Cancer genome sequencing projects have increased our understanding of the heterogeneity of individual tumors. We also have a better understanding of which oncogenes are important for tumor maintenance and are therefore called "drivers." We review the advances and limitations of our knowledge about the role of Kras in development of pancreatic cancers and the important areas for future research.
Copyright © 2013 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.