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MD Anderson Team Wins NIH Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Biomarker Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded an MD Anderson Cancer Center team a one-year grant to follow up on preliminary data suggesting that certain microRNAs can be used as biomarkers to identify pancreatic neoplasms at high risk for progressing into invasive tumors.

Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, or IPMNs, are cystic lesions that frequently, but not always, progress into pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

As part of an effort to identify biomarkers that can be used to stratify IPMNs at high risk for progressing into PDAC from low-risk indolent pancreatic cysts, MD Anderson's Subrata Sen and colleagues in 2014 reported on the use of next-generation sequencing to profile miRNAs in cyst fluid from benign and invasive pancreatic cystic lesions, which revealed a number of miRNAs that were either up- or downregulated in invasive cyst fluid. 

To build on these findings, Sen and his team have now received $223,369 from the NIH to conduct broader NGS analyses of miRNAs within cyst fluid from IPMN patients with low-grade dysplasia and those with high-grade invasive cancer in order to establish an miRNA signature that can differentiate the two patient populations using both sequencing and RT-PCR.

The researchers also plan to look for overlap between potential pancreatic cancer miRNA biomarkers in cyst fluid and in plasma, according to the grant's abstract.