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TGen to Partner with Asuragen on Cancer Dx

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Translational Genomics Research Institute and Asuragen will work together to develop new biomarker screening technologies for pancreatic cancer, TGen said today.

The partnership will involve combining Asuragen's microRNA and diagnostic development know-how with TGen's research capabilities. The partners will use blood samples from TGen's Pancreatic Cancer Biospecimens Repository, which includes samples collected from healthy individuals and from those with pancreatic abnormalities and pancreatic cancer.

They also will use other pancreatic cancer samples from an international collaboration called the Pancreatic Cancer Research Team.

There currently is no screening test in common use for pancreatic cancer, which by killing more than 35,000 people in the US each year has become this nation's fourth-leading cause of cancer death, TGen said. Because the cancer often is not detected until it is in advanced stages, treatment options are scarce.

"If you can use a blood test to identify metastatic pancreatic cancer before it shows up on imaging tests, we may prevent unnecessary surgery or invasive procedures," Glen Weiss, an associate investigator in TGen's Cancer and Cell Biology Division, said in a statement. Weiss added that the collaborators will "seek to identify better prognostic indicators for predicting the course of the disease and the prospects for recovery."

Asuragen is developing the Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Test, which is a microRNA-based diagnostic for use in differentiating pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma from chronic pancreatitis in resected pancreatic specimens.

The only current prognostic test for pancreatic cancer is a blood test for the CA-19-9 tumor markers.

"If we can identify biomarkers that improve on the performance of CA-19-9 as a prognostic test for relapse after surgery, that may be helpful in identifying those higher-risk individuals for new therapies that may prevent disease relapse." Weiss said.

"We see great potential for this to transform screening and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and ultimately the survival of pancreatic cancer patients," Asuragen CEO and CSO Matt Winkler said.

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