The invention of a new test that can tell pancreatic cancer from chronic pancreatitis with virtual certainty is offering hope for doctors to identify the malignancy in its earliest stage possible.
Raghu Kalluri, MD, PhD, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, developed this test. The test looks for protein,glypican-1 (GPC1), which is released by pancreatic cancer cells. GPC1 is present in exosomes, which are vesicles containing proteins and nucleic acids that are released by pancreatic cancer cells.
The test detects proteins in the serum of patients with pancreatic cancer with absolute specificity, besides differentiating between the healthy and the cancer stricken patients, it also differentiates between patients with early or late stage pancreatic cancer, according to the researchers, who reported their findings in the June 24 issue of Nature.
In an editorial accompanying the Nature article, Clotilde Théry, of the Institut Curie, in Paris, called the findings “clinically important.”
“The potential implications of such a test are huge,” Dr. Théry wrote.