FOX CHASE CANCER CENTER: Diagnostic Method for Early Pancreatic Cancer Detection


Dr. Anthony Yeung and his research group at the Fox Chase Cancer Center have identified a biomarker method for early detection of pancreatic cancer development.


Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths which is associated with very poor survival rates. Advances in imaging techniques have allowed clinicians to visualize pancreatic cysts, yet there are no consistent tools for staging these lesions. Fox Chase researchers have identified more than 500 proteins in pancreatic cyst fluid collected from patients. The protein composition of the fluid has been correlated with existing cyst cancer markers to yield a proteomic signature of developing pancreatic cancer.


The pancreatic cyst fluid proteome can be used as a diagnostic tool for the detection of pancreatic cancer. Current diagnostic methods which include examination of biopsied tissue for cancer markers require an invasive procedure to obtain the sample and yield limited information based on staining for few markers. Furthermore, pancreatic cysts have complex histopathologic features often changing during cyst development. Obtaining cystic fluid from a patient can be done via minimally invasive procedures but cytology studies on cystic fluid have very low sensitivity. With the proposed proteomic mass spectroscopy approach, small fluid samples can yield an informative profile of the cyst assaying hundreds of proteins at the same time. A panel of 12 biomarkers that appears to facilitate cyst fluid classification has been found. Since the approach only requires a very small sample, smaller cysts can be assayed contributing to earlier detection of pancreatic cancer markers. The technology has huge potential as a diagnostic tool because of the possibilities for a high throughput, low hands-on platform utilizing existing mass spectroscopy technology.


The technology is available for licensing.

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