(Press-News.org) DURHAM, N.C. – A research team at Duke Health has identified a set of biomarkers that could help distinguish whether cysts on the pancreas are likely to develop into cancer or remain benign.
Appearing online March 17 in the journal Science Advances, the finding marks an important first step toward a clinical approach for classifying lesions on the pancreas that are at highest risk of becoming cancerous, potentially enabling their removal before they begin to spread.
If successful, the biomarker-based approach could address the biggest impediment to decreasing the chance of developing pancreatic cancer, which is on the rise and is notorious for silently growing before being discovered, often incidentally, during abdominal scans.
“Even when pancreas cancer is detected at its earliest stage, it almost always has shed cells throughout the body, and the cancer returns,” said senior author Peter Allen, M.D., chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at in the Department of Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine.
“That’s why we shifted our focus to these precancerous cysts, known as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, or IPMNs,” Allen said. “Most IPMNs will never progress to pancreas cancer, but by distinguishing which ones will progress, we are creating an opportunity to prevent an incurable disease from developing.”
Allen and colleagues used a sophisticated molecular biology tool called digital spatial RNA profiling to home in on specific areas of the cyst with high- and low-grade areas of abnormal cell growth.
Previous methods to characterize IPMNs have been less precise and have not been able to identify particularly accurate markers of cancer risk. Digital spatial profiling, however, allows researchers to choose individual groups of cells for analysis. This enabled the Duke researchers to identify a host of genetic mutations that both fuel and potentially suppress pancreatic cancer development.
The team also identified markers for discriminating between the two leading variants of IPMN and found distinct markers for defining a third common variant that generally results in less aggressive disease.
“We found very distinct markers for high-grade cell abnormalities, as well as for slow-growing subtypes,” Allen said. “Our work now is focusing on finding it in the cyst fluid. If we can identify these unique markers in cyst fluid, it could provide the basis for a protein biopsy that would guide whether we should remove the cyst before cancer develops and spreads.”
Allen said current diagnostic strategies -- including clinical, radiographic, laboratory, endoscopic, and cytologic analysis -- have an overall accuracy of approximately 60%.
“Pancreatic cancer is on the rise and, if the current trajectory continues, it will become the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States in the next few years,” Allen said, noting it’s unknown what is driving the cancer’s increased prevalence.
He said some studies suggest inflammation plays a role. A clinical trial at Duke, led by Allen, is testing whether an anti-inflammatory therapy could reduce the development of cancer in patients with IPMN.
In addition to Allen, study authors include Matthew K. Iyer, Chanjuan Shi, Austin M. Eckhoff, Ashley Fletcher, and Daniel P. Nussbaum.
The study received funding support from the National Cancer Institute (RO1 CA182076).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new discovery, reported in a global study that encompassed more than a decade of research, could lead to the breeding of corn crops that can withstand drought and low-nitrogen soil conditions and ultimately ease global food insecurity, according to a Penn State-led team of international researchers.
In findings published March 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the researchers identified a gene encoding a transcription factor – a protein useful for converting DNA into RNA – that triggers a genetic sequence responsible for the development of an important trait enabling corn roots ...
With more than half of the world’s population active on social media networks, user-generated data has proved to be fertile ground for social scientists who study attitudes about the environment and sustainability.
But several challenges threaten the success of what's known as social media data science. The primary concern, according to a new study from an international research team, is limited access to data resulting from restrictive terms of service, shutdown of platforms, data manipulation, censorship and regulations.
The study, published online March ...
Even after 27 years of reunification, East Germans are still more likely to be pro-state support than their Western counterparts, a new study published in the De Gruyter journal German Economic Review finds. Of the sample studied, 48% of respondents from the East said it was the government’s duty to support the family compared to 35% from the West.
The study led by Prof. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln of Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany builds on her earlier work which evaluated results from the German Socio-Economic Panel, a regular survey of around 15,000 households. The survey has been running in the federal ...
NORTH LOGAN, UTAH - NASA has announced that the launch of the Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory and College of Science-led Atmospheric Waves Experiment, or AWE, is scheduled for December 2023. The NASA-funded instrument will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to the International Space Station.
AWE Principal Investigator Michael Taylor from USU’s College of Science leads a team of scientists that will provide new details about how the weather on Earth interacts with, and affects, space weather. To do that, the AWE instrument, measuring about 54 centimeters by 1 meter and weighing less than 57 kilograms, will peer into Earth’s ...
Texas Engineers are leading a multi-university research team that will build technology and tools to improve measurement of important climate factors by observing atoms in outer space.
They will focus on the concept of quantum sensing, which use quantum physics principles to potentially collect more precise data and enable unprecedented science measurements. These sensors could help satellites in orbit collect data about how atoms react to small changes in their environment, and using that to infer the ...
A collaborative study carried out by the groups of Matthias Drosten, principal investigator at the Cancer Research Center (CSIC- University of Salamanca), and Mariano Barbacid, head of the Experimental Oncology group at the CNIO, reveals the mechanisms responsible for the development of tumor resistance to Sotorasib, the first approved inhibitor against the KRAS oncogene.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, shows that lung tumor cells can rapidly adapt to this drug by increasing the number of copies of the mutated KRAS gene targeted by the treatment and by increased expression of xenobiotic pathways that limit ...
Fossil site is ‘Rosetta Stone’ for understanding early life
Leading edge technology has uncovered secrets about a world-renowned fossil hoard that could offer vital clues about early life on earth.
Researchers who analysed the 400 million-year-old-cache, found in rural north-east Scotland, say their findings reveal better preservation of the fossils at a molecular level than was previously anticipated.
Fresh scrutiny of the exquisitely preserved treasure trove from Aberdeenshire has enabled scientists to identify the chemical fingerprints of the various organisms within ...
Integrating sensors into rotational mechanisms could make it possible for engineers to build smart hinges that know when a door has been opened, or gears inside a motor that tell a mechanic how fast they are rotating. MIT engineers have now developed a way to easily integrate sensors into these types of mechanisms, with 3D printing.
Even though advances in 3D printing enable rapid fabrication of rotational mechanisms, integrating sensors into the designs is still notoriously difficult. Due to the complexity of the rotating parts, sensors are typically embedded manually, after the device has already ...
Swansea University News Release
17 March 2023
£1 million for projects involving Swansea experts to tackle gambling harm among Armed Forces veterans
Research to tackle gambling harm among Armed Forces veterans has received a major boost with three awards, totalling £1 million, for new projects in the field that involve Swansea University experts.
The projects include evaluating a smartphone app for veterans with gambling disorder and PTSD, which is aimed at reducing symptoms,
The three projects ...
A new scientific study by researchers from the University of Liège (Belgium) shows that rivers in the Andean mountains contribute 35% and 72% of riverine emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and methane (CH4 ) in the Amazon basin, the world's largest river. This study is published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.
Rivers contribute substantially to global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The Amazon River, the World's largest river, plays an important role in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is the largest river on the planet in terms of freshwater flow," explains Alberto Borges, ...