Scientists found that levels of miRNA distinguish pancreatitis from pancreatic cancer and predict survival.

Preliminary research suggests that the expression pattern of miRNA may be useful in differentiating between chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer and may be able to distinguish long- and short-term survival time for patients with pancreatic cancer.

“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,” write the Ohio State University scientists in their study published in the May 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “A subgroup of six miRNAs was able to distinguish long-term survivors with node-positive disease from those dying within 24 months. Finally, high expression of miR-196a-2 was found to predict poor survival.”

The scientists conducted a series of experiments to identify the pattern of miRNA expression in pancreatic adenocarcinoma to differentiate pancreatic cancer from benign pancreatic tissue and any distinctions in survival associated with certain miRNA expression. Study specimens were obtained from patients with ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas or chronic pancreatitis. RNA was harvested from resected pancreatic cancers, benign adjacent pancreatic tissue, as well as from chronic pancreatitis specimens. The subsequent miRNA was analyzed to identify associations with certain tissue types and prognosis.

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