PLoS Medicine paper highlighted the discovery, which was made in a mouse model and validated in a small group of patients.

Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have identified proteins that appear in increased numbers at an early stage of pancreatic tumor development in a mouse model.

“Our team identified, for the first time, protein changes associated with early-stage pancreatic-tumor development in genetically engineered mice that were also found to be associated with the presence of the disease in humans at an early, presymptomatic stage,” says senior author, Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D.

The investigators tested a panel of five proteins, selected because they showed elevated levels at an early stage of tumor development in the mouse model, in a blinded study in 26 humans from the CARET (Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial) cohort. The panel of proteins discriminated pancreatic cancer cases from matched controls in blood specimens obtained between 7 and 13 months prior to the development of symptoms and clinical diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, they report.

The next step will include validating additional candidate biomarkers and further testing of the biomarker panel they assembled to see how well it distinguishes between pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, the scientists note.

The results are published in the June 10 issue of PLoS Medicine.

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