New clues to pancreatic cancer

From Times wire reports

Scientists have identified a molecule that could eventually help determine how to better treat highly lethal pancreatic cancer.

A report published in the May 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. said that a certain pattern found in a microRNA -- a short ribonucleic acid molecule -- may help tell the difference between chronic pancreatitis, an acute inflammation, and pancreatic cancer, thus helping distinguish long- and short-term survival time for patients with the cancer.

“Data such as ours in which it is possible to begin to differentiate between patients with better or worse prognoses, may help guide the clinician when determining who should or should not receive aggressive therapy,” concluded the report from Ohio State University.

Pancreatic cancer kills about 33,000 people each year in the United States. It spreads easily and is resistant to chemotherapy.


The study involved an examination of specimens from 65 patients with ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and 42 with chronic pancreatitis.

“We have identified -- we believe for the first time -- a global expression pattern of miRNAs that can differentiate ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas from normal pancreas and chronic pancreatitis with 95% accuracy,” the study said.