Using a panel of four blood biomarkers, a research team from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was able to successfully distinguish healthy individuals from those with pancreatic cancer or who suffer from chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cysts. The results were recently presented at an AACR conference on Pancreatic Cancer: Innovations in Research and Treatment.
Currently, researchers believe only 10 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when the disease is in its early stages, as the imaging techniques for pancreatic cancer detection are not reliable enough to be generally used. Therefore, this new diagnostic advancement may be the first step to the development of a panel with clinical application that could revolutionize diagnoses.
The four blood biomarkers consist of the known pancreatic cancer biomarker CA 19-9 and three new biomarkers. The diagnostic yielded correct identifications using samples from healthy individuals, patients with chronic pancreatitis, and patients with pancreatic cysts, with accretes rate of 92 percent, 85 percent, and 92 percent, respectively.
“Our biomarker panel was much better at distinguishing patients with pancreatic cancer from those who were healthy, had chronic pancreatitis, or had pancreatic cysts compared with CA 19-9 alone,” said Ayumu Taguchi, Ph.D., M.D., assistant professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “This means that our panel has the potential to substantially reduce the number of patients who would have to undergo extremely invasive screening procedures.”
The MD Anderson research team analyzed not only CA 19-9 but also 20 other potential biomarkers from 98 patients’ blood samples with pancreatic cancer, 50 healthy individuals, and 29 patients with chronic pancreatitis. In this way, Dr. Taguchi was able to determine the best combination of potential biomarkers.
The four-biomarker panel was then validated through blood samples from two independent partners. The first group consisted of 42 patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer, 50 healthy individuals, and 50 patients with chronic pancreatitis, while the second group included 22 patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer and 14 patients with benign pancreatic cysts.
“We need to further validate our panel using larger numbers of samples collected before diagnosis of early-stage pancreatic cancers,” said Taguchi. “However, we are hopeful that we can develop a panel that will have clinical application.”
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute Early Detection Network and The Lustgarten Foundation.