Plasma THBS2 level may improve early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
A team of researchers, headed by Dr. Kenneth Zaret from the University of Pennsylvania, has found that detection of two proteins, THBS2 and CA19-9, may facilitate the diagnosis of early stages of pancreatic cancer, a discovery that may improve the treatment of the disease. Findings of the study have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer of the pancreas, an important organ that produces the juices that help digestion and the hormones that control blood glucose. In the disease's early stages, there are usually no signs or symptoms. Therefore, most cases of pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until they are advanced. At that point, a cure is rarely possible. Pancreatic cancer is one of the commonest causes of cancer-related mortality worldwide, although surgery to remove pancreatic tumors has become safer and less invasive and advances in radiotherapy and chemotherapy have shown to improve survival.
If we can find ways to detect early stages of pancreatic cancer, it will allow doctors to treat patients with pancreatic cancer earlier and may reduce the mortality rates of the patients. In order to improve the detection of pancreatic cancer, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania collaborated with researchers at Mayo Clinic to identify new biomarkers of early stages of pancreatic cancer. The collaborative team created a cell model that recapitulates the progression of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Using this model, they discovered some candidates biomarkers and then tested them in further experiments. Measurement of these candidate biomarkers in plasma samples from patients with various stages of PDAC, from people with benign pancreatic disease, and from healthy controls revealed that a protein called thrombospondin-2 (THBS2), in combination with CA19-9, could improve the detection of early stages of PDAC in high-risk human populations.
CA19-9, also known as cancer antigen 19-9, is a well-known tumor marker and has already been used as diagnostic and screening tool in the management of pancreatic cancer. This study revealed that the plasma level of THBS2 was able to improve the ability of CA19-9 to detect PDAC. Therefore, a combination of THBS2 and CA19-9 may facilitate early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
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