Diagnostic microRNA panels in whole blood that had the ability to distinguish, to some degree, patients with and without pancreatic cancer have been discovered by a team of scientists.
MicroRNAs regulate gene expression and play important roles in the development of tumors and tumor metastasis. MicroRNA panels are a combination of several microRNAs.
Nicolai A. Schultz, M.D., Ph.D., of Herlev Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues examined differences in microRNA in whole blood between patients with pancreatic cancer (n = 409) and healthy participants (n = 312) and patients with chronic pancreatitis (n = 25) to identify diagnostic panels of microRNAs for use in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Serum cancer antigen 19-9 (CA19-9; an antigen that is elevated in approximately 80 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer) was also measured for comparison.
The researchers identified 2 novel panels with the potential for diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
The authors write that the test could thereby diagnose more patients with pancreatic cancer, some of them at an early stage, and thus have a potential to increase the number of patients that can be operated on and possibly cured of pancreatic cancer.
The study has been published in the JAMA.