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New Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer Discovered

Update Date: Jan 21, 2014 06:20 PM EST

Scientists have discovered new biomarkers that could help predict pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.

New research has identified diagnostic microRNA panels in whole blood that has the ability to distinguish patients with and without pancreatic cancer.

Researchers explain that microRNA panels are a combination of several microRNAs, which regulate gene expression and play important roles in the development of tumors and tumor metastasis.

Researchers said the latest study is important because early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is difficult because it is hard to get useful biopsies of tissues from patients. Therefore, markers can help with early diagnosis are needed to improve prognosis.

Lead researcher Nicolai A. Schultz, M.D., Ph.D., of Herlev Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark looked at differences in microRNA in whole blood between patients with pancreatic cancer and healthy participants and patients with chronic pancreatitis.

Researchers were able to identify two novel panels that can potentially diagnose pancreatic cancer.

 "The test could thereby diagnose more patients with pancreatic cancer, some of them at an early stage, and thus have a potential to increase the number of patients that can be operated on and possibly cured of pancreatic cancer," researchers said in a news release.

"Although we validated the panels, our findings are preliminary. ... Further research is necessary to understand whether these have clinical implications for early detection of pancreatic cancer and how much this information adds to serum CA19-9," they added.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA.

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