COLUMBUS , Ohio A pattern of micro molecules can distinguish pancreatic cancer from normal and benign pancreatic tissue, new research suggests.
The study examined human pancreatic tumor tissue and compared it to nearby normal tissue and control tissue for levels of microRNA (miRNA). It identified about 100 different miRNAs that are present usually at very high levels in the tumor tissue compared with their levels in normal pancreatic tissue.
The findings suggest that miRNAs form a signature, or expression pattern, that may offer new clues about how pancreatic cancer develops, and they could lead to new molecular markers that might improve doctors' ability to diagnose and treat the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is expected to strike 33,700 Americans and to kill 32,300 others this year, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer death. The high mortality rate the number of new cases nearly equals the number of deaths exists because the disease is difficult to diagnosis early and treatment advances have been few.
The study, led by cancer researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, was published online Dec. 5, 2006, in the International Journal of Cancer.
"Our findings show that a number of miRNAs are present at very different levels in pancreatic cancer compared with benign tissue from the same patient or with normal pancreatic tissue," says principal investigator Thomas D. Schmittgen, associate professor of pharmacy and a researcher with the Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"Most are present at much higher levels, which suggests that developing drugs to inhibit them might offer a new way to treat pancreatic cancer. It also means that a test based on miRNA levels might help diagnose pancreatic cancer."
miRNAs are extremely short molecules that were discovered about a dozen years ago and found to be important for controlling how proteins are made. Scientists hav
Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Ohio State University