The team's analysis of four microRNAs (miRNA) found in the blood plasma of pancreatic cancer patients is proof of principle to further develop a blood test for this evasive disease, said senior author Subrata Sen, Ph.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Molecular Pathology.
"Increased expression of microRNAs is known to be involved with specific genetic pathways and processes responsible for the development of cancer-associated changes in cells," Sen said. "Detection of elevated levels of miRNAs in blood plasma of pancreatic cancer patients as informative biomarkers of disease appears to be a promising, novel approach for developing a minimally invasive assay for detecting this disease."
There is no accurate, noninvasive way to detect pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Fewer than 5 percent of patients survive to five years.
MicroRNAs are single-stranded bits of RNA consisting of 18 to 24 nucleotides that regulate the messenger RNA (mRNA) expressed by genes to tell a cell's protein-making machinery what protein to make.
The four targeted microRNAs previously had been associated in varied ways with pancreatic cancer or with precancerous lesions. Expression of the four was analyzed in 28 patients with pancreatic cancer and 19 healthy people.
The four combined markers accurately identified 64 percent (sensitivity) of the pancreatic cancer cases and correctly identified 89 percent of those without disease (specificity). That degree of sensitivity and specificity are good for a pilot study but don't yet rise to the levels required for translation in the clinic, which would require investigating more circulating microRNAs in blood in a larger sample of persons representing different stages of the disease and healthy controls.
The study's small sample size, which compared only the extremes of pancreatic cancer or the complete absence of the disease, is a limitation, but the results justify continued development of this strategy, Sen said.
One of the miRNAs in the study is overexpressed in precursor lesions that can lead to full pancreatic cancer. "The fact that a microRNA reported to be overexpressed in pre-invasive pancreatic cancer could be detected in blood plasma from pancreatic cancer patients raises the possibility that a blood test for detecting pre-invasive pancreatic cancer may become a reality," Sen said.
Marker miRNAs used in the study were miR-21, miR-210, miR-155 and miR-196a.
Sen and colleagues are working with the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute to develop studies with larger sample sizes that are designed to test miRNA markers associated with different grades and stages of the disease.
The project was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute.
Co-authors with Sen are first author Jin Wang, Ph.D., and Aimee LeBlanc, BS, also of Molecular Pathology; Jinyun Chen, Ph.D. and Marsha Frazier, Ph.D., of M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology; Ping Chang, Donghui Li, Ph.D., and James Abbruzzese, M.D., all of the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology; and Ann Killary, Ph.D., of the Department of Genetics.
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For six of the past eight years, including 2009, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.
Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences