The discovery of a potential biomarker in pancreatic cancer could radically change outcomes for this otherwise almost universally fatal disease.
As it stands, pancreatic cancer – or more specifically, pancreatic adenocarcinoma – has about the worst survival rate of any cancer subtype, with a five-year survival rate hovering around 3 percent. Because the disease is asymptomatic for so long, the overwhelming majority of patients aren't diagnosed until the disease is advanced, leaving no effective treatment options.
A potentially promising discovery
Researchers led by Xiaoyang Qi, Ph.D., associate professor of hematology oncology at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, may have found a biomarker for the disease in the form of an acidic phospholipid called phosphatidylserine (PS).
Qi and his team, reporting in the journal PLOS One, say that PS is "abnormally" expressed on the surface of pancreatic cancer cells, making it not only a biomarker for the disease itself but possibly also a treatment target.
It should be noted that their work has been carried out in the lab on human pancreatic cancer cell lines and in mouse models only. Much work remains before this becomes anything a patient can hang his or her hat on.
Source: PLOS One
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