Project 3

Biological marker(s) in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

Project Leaders:Surinder Batra, Ph.D., Randall Brand, M.D., and Aaron Sasson, M.D.Translational Goal:

    Develop and test methods for early detection of pancreatic cancer that include novel serum diagnostic assays and early diagnosis by using a novel light imaging technology.

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a disease of insidious progression and high lethality, with the majority of tumors having extended beyond the confines of the pancreas at the time of diagnosis. The early diagnosis of PC remains a challenging endeavor that will require multidisciplinary approaches, including imaging studies, tissue sampling, and analysis of body fluids from patients.

The goal of this study is to develop a non-invasive/minimally invasive novel molecular diagnostic test(s) for pancreatic adenocarcinomas. We will investigate the diagnostic utility of the recent findings that mucins (MUC4) is detectable in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of pancreatic cancer patients but not of healthy individuals or those with non-neoplastic pancreatic diseases.

The central hypothesis of this proposal is that the detection of mucins in PBMCs and FNAs is positively correlated with the presence of already existing pancreatic cancer or precancerous lesions and thus could be a powerful tool for the early diagnosis and for predicting the prognosis of patients affected with this lethal disease.To examine this hypothesis, we have proposed three specific aims:

Develop and test methods for early detection of pancreatic cancer that include novel serum diagnostic assays and early diagnosis by using a novel light imaging technology. Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a disease of insidious progression and high lethality, with the majority of tumors having extended beyond the confines of the pancreas at the time of diagnosis. The early diagnosis of PC remains a challenging endeavor that will require multidisciplinary approaches, including imaging studies, tissue sampling, and analysis of body fluids from patients. The goal of this study is to develop a non-invasive/minimally invasive novel molecular diagnostic test(s) for pancreatic adenocarcinomas. We will investigate the diagnostic utility of the recent findings that mucins (MUC4) is detectable in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of pancreatic cancer patients but not of healthy individuals or those with non-neoplastic pancreatic diseases. The central hypothesis of this proposal is that the detection of mucins in PBMCs and FNAs is positively correlated with the presence of already existing pancreatic cancer or precancerous lesions and thus could be a powerful tool for the early diagnosis and for predicting the prognosis of patients affected with this lethal disease. To examine this hypothesis, we have proposed three specific aims.

  • AIM I. To compare the expression of nucins (MUCs) by Real-Time RT-PCR in PBMCs of patients with pancreatic cancer, other pancreatic neoplasms, pancreatitis, other benign and neoplastic diseases, and age-matched healthy subjects.
  • AIM II. To identify the specific cell type(s) in PBMCs that expresses mucins.
  • AIM III. To investigate the expression of mucins and its correlation with nanoscale structural changes in fine needle aspirates (FNAs) by immunocytochemistry and Partial wave spectroscopy (PWS), respectively.

Taken together, these aims will establish the utility of mucins in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Surinder Batra, Ph.D.
Surinder Batra, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
UNMC
sbatra@unmc.edu

Randall E. Brand, M.D.
Randall E. Brand, M.D.
Visiting Professor of Medicine
Academic Director, GI Division
University of Pittsburgh

Aaron R. Sasson, M.D.
Aaron R. Sasson, M.D.
Associate Professor
Surgical Oncology
UNMC College of Medicine