Target for cancer stem cells

New drug target kills resistant tumors in the deadliest cancers

  • Proprietary, novel cancer stem cell marker
  • siRNA knockdown induces susceptibility to gemcitabine
  • Currently identifying small molecule inhibitors of PD2

Licensing Manager: Catherine Murari-Kanti, Ph.D. or 402-559-3265


New drug target kills resistant tumors in the deadliest cancers

Dr. Batra

Surinder Batra, Ph.D.

Cancer drugs are only as good as their ability to kill the toughest cell in a tumor, which is always the stem cell.
Stem cells—the cell-building dynamos that produce functional organs and tissues—can sometimes have a dark side, exhibiting cancerous properties. Known as cancer stem cells, they help tumors resist and recover from treatment, and drivea cancer’s aggressiveness and ability to spread to other organs.
Some types of cancer, such as pancreatic and ovarian cancer, are particularly hardy thanks in large part to a robust population of these cancer stem cells. In order for cancer treatment to be effective it must target the cancer stem cell population.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, led by Surinder Batra, Ph.D., have found that cancer stem cells have a protein called PD2, or Pancreatic Differentiation Factor 2.
PD2 is normally involved in the maintenance of stem cells and gives cancer stem cells the ability to replicate and develop drug resistance. PD2 appears to be expressed along with other cancer stem cell markers (CD133 and CD44) and self-renewal markers (Shh and Oct3/4).
Dr. Batra’s research shows that shutting down PD2 could make once-resistant cells vulnerable to cancer drugs. When PD2 was inhibited, drug-resistant cells became susceptible to treatment with the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine. The results suggest PD2 may be a compelling target for more effective cancer treatment.
UNMC researchers are currently screening libraries of small molecules to identify potential inhibitors of PD2. Some candidates have been identified and lead development is underway.
To discuss licensing opportunities please contact Catherine Murari-Kanti, Ph.D., at or 402-559-3265.

Technical Data

PD2 a new drug target and prognostic for cancer stem cells

TID236 fig3

Fig2. Knockdown of PD2 in pancreatic cancer stem cells. RT-PCR in pancreatic cancer side population and side population after PD2 knockdown.

TID236 fig1

Fig 1. Western blot analysis of CSC and self renewal markers in ovarian cancer stem cells. Expression of PD2 in populations of ovarian cancer stem cells correlates to cancer stem cell markers (CD133, CD44) and self-renewal markers (Oct3/4, Shh).

Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center discovered that Pancreatic Differentiation Factor 2 (PD2) expression correlates to self-renewal and drug resistance of cancer stem cells. PD2 expression along with caner stem cells markers (CD133 and CD44) and self-renewal markers (Shh and Oct3/4) in ovarian and pancreatic cancer populations with high numbers of cancer stem cells.
Following transient transfection with an siRNA oligo directed towards PD2, drug resistant SW1990 SP cells were susceptible to Gemcitabine treatment. PD2 is a compelling candidate to induce drug resistance in cancer stem cell populations.
TID 236 Fig2

Knockdown of PD2 in pancreatic cancer stem cells. siRNA mediated knockdown of the PD2 induced suceptability to drug resistant SW1990 side population to Gemcitabine treatment.