Improving diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

In the August issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, scientists provide the first large-scale identification of proteins that are overexpressed in chronic pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas that shares many features with pancreatic cancer.

The information will help diagnose the early stages of both diseases.

Many of the proteins that are overexpressed in pancreatic cancer are also overexpressed in chronic pancreatitis, so when these proteins are detected in a patient, doctors cannot easily tell whether the patient is developing pancreatic cancer or chronic pancreatitis. To solve this problem, scientists are trying to identify the proteins that are overexpressed in one of the diseases but not the other.

Ru Chen and colleagues identified proteins specifically expressed in chronic pancreatitis and compared them with those identified in pancreatic cancer in a previous study. They found that two proteins called annexin A2 and IGFBP-2 were overexpressed in cancer but not in chronic pancreatitis, and showed that three proteins – cathepsin D, integrin beta-1, and plasminogen – that are currently known to be overexpressed in pancreatic cancer are actually overexpressed in both diseases. This latter result indicates that such proteins are probably not as reliable as previously assumed for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

These proteins are part of a total of 116 identified proteins, 60 of which had not been reported in prior studies and could provide new ways of diagnosing pancreatitis and understanding how it develops.

Article: “Quantitative Proteomics Analysis Reveals That Proteins Differentially Expressed in Chronic Pancreatitis Are Also Frequently Involved in Pancreatic Cancer,” by Ru Chen, Teresa A. Brentnall, Sheng Pan, Kelly Cooke, Kara White Moyes, David A. Crispin, David R.Goodlett, Ruedi Aebersold, and Mary P. Bronner

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