Newswise — EL PASO, Texas — A researcher in Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Center of Emphasis in Cancer was recently awarded a grant from the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation to study a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Assistant Professor Ramadevi Subramani Reddy, Ph.D., received $25,150 from the foundation to study a plant-based chemical compound called 2, 3-dehydrosalanol (DHS) as a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer. In studies, DHS has been noted for its ability to suppress tumor growth.

The pancreas is an organ that assists with digestion of food. Although cancer of this organ is relatively rare, it has a very low survival rate; for example, more people died of pancreatic cancer than breast cancer in the U.S. in 2021, according to National Cancer Institute estimates.

“There’s a critical need to develop an effective and efficient treatment option for pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Subramani Reddy said. She said she hopes her research on DHS will serve as a “proof-of-principle” that the compound “can serve as an optimal alternative and integrative treatment for pancreatic cancers.”

In similar research supported by a recent grant from the Lizanell and Colbert Coldwell Foundation, Dr. Subramani Reddy is studying the anti-cancer effects of gedunin, a natural compound from the Azadirachta indica tree native to the Indian subcontinent.

According to the National Cancer Institute, El Paso has an incidence rate of 8.8 pancreatic cancers per 100,000 people. Almost 71% of the cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, indicating that these patients will have high mortality rates. Though pancreatic cancer survival rates have improved, the mortality rate is approximately 90%, and existing treatments for pancreatic cancer patients only extend lives by about six months. Worldwide annual mortality rates of approximately 410,000 pancreatic cancer cases nearly match the worldwide incidence rates of 420,000. Additionally, predictions place pancreatic cancer as the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Western countries within the next decade.

The National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation provides financial support for research that’s patient focused with the goal of establishing accessible and affordable health care options for those battling pancreatic cancer.

“Research like this is important for our local community as we work to develop safe and effective cancer drugs, and also for the research contributions across the world that could potentially save lives,” Dr. Subramani Reddy said.


About TTUHSC El Paso

TTUHSC El Paso serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It is designated as a Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution, preparing the next generation of health care professionals and researchers, 48% of whom identify as Hispanic and are often first-generation college students.

Research conducted in TTUHSC El Paso’s four Centers of Emphasis focuses on conditions directly impacting Hispanic populations, including diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases and neurological disorders. University researchers also study health disparities, helping to meet health care challenges in the Borderplex.