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New test may improve pancreatic cancer diagnoses

Method relies on five proteins from bits of tumor circulating in blood

5:50pm, May 24, 2017
antibody-coated chip

CHIP OF HOLES  When an antibody-coated chip with nano-sized holes (left) binds proteins in extracellular vesicles (droplets in image at right) shed from pancreatic tumors, a sensor detects a shift in the wavelength of light shining through the holes.

Pancreatic cancer is hard to detect early, when the disease is most amenable to treatment. But a new study describes a blood test that may aid the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and someday make earlier screening feasible, the authors say.

The test detects a combination of five tumor proteins that appear to be a reliable signature of the disease, the researchers report in the May 24 Science Translational Medicine. In patients undergoing pancreatic or abdominal surgery, the test was 84 percent accurate at picking out those who had pancreatic cancer.

“What’s exciting about the study is that it further favors the belief that one biomarker by itself may not be able to successfully identify a disease,” says Raghu Kalluri, a cancer biologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who was not involved in the study. By putting the five protein

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