Penn Researchers ID Protein Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A team led by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania has identified a pair of protein markers that could prove useful for diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers found that the proteins, thrombospondin-2 and CA19-9, could identify patients with pancreatic cancer with a specificity of 98 percent and sensitivity of 87 percent, suggesting that they could aid early detection of the disease, particularly in high-risk populations, said Kenneth Zaret, professor of genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and senior author on the paper.

He added that he and his colleagues are now continuing validation of the markers using prospectively collected blood samples provided by the National Cancer Institute and collaborating with clinicians at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic to use the test in high-risk patients.

They are also exploring additional candidate markers identified but not pursued in the STM study, Zaret said.

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to detect early with most cases diagnosed at advanced stages, at which time removing the cancer via surgery is no longer possible. This contributes significantly to the generally poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients, whose

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