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Model Mice: Blood reveals signs of pancreatic cancer

By the time you find out, it's usually too late. Almost all people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer succumb quickly to the disease, which spreads aggressively to the liver and other organs.

Researchers have for the first time created mice that appear to develop the disease in the same way that people do. The animals offer a "very faithful model of pancreatic cancer," says David Tuveson of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who led the new work. The genetically engineered rodents should aid the identification and testing of therapies for the deadly cancer, say Tuveson and his colleagues.

The scientists have already laid the groundwork for a test that could catch the disease in time for potential treatments to be effective. They've found a pattern of proteins in the blood of mice with precancerous pancreatic lesions.

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