New screening tool identifies 95% of stage 1 pancreatic cancers

New screening platform reported more than 95% of stage 1 pancreatic cancers, pilot study published in

Nature Communications Medicine
. If validated by future studies, the approach offers a new way to detect the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States in 2020.

Scott Lippman, MD, is director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-lead author of a new
Nature Communication Medicine article on a study showing that high-conductance dielectrophoresis detected 95% of early pancreatic cancers.

The study of 139 stage 1 and 2 cancer patients and 184 controls is the first clinical trial of a platform technology called high-conductance dielectrophoresis, developed at UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center Health 12 years ago. It detects extracellular vesicles (EVs), which contain tumor proteins that are released into the circulation by cancer cells as part of a poorly understood intercellular communication network. AI-enabled protein marker analysis is then used to predict the likelihood of malignancy.

In addition to detecting 99.5% of stage 1 pancreatic cancers, the approach reported 74.4% of stage 1 ovarian cancers and 73.1% of pathologic stage 1A fatally aggressive ovarian adenocarcinomas – all with over 99% specificity – illustrating the potential value of this technology. for the early detection of cancer.

“The pancreatic cancer outcome is particularly promising,” said Scott M. Lippman, MD, director of the Moores Cancer Center, principal investigator of the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation’s Pancreatic Cancer Intercept Dream Team. Lustgarten and co-lead author of the article. “These results are five times more accurate in detecting early-stage cancer than current liquid biopsy multi-cancer detection tests.”

Liquid biopsy tests are showing promising results for monitoring cancer treatment and disease relapse, Lippman said, “but they can cause real harm to otherwise healthy people when used for the early detection of disease due to unacceptable false positive rates that lead to diagnostic tests that are not only expensive, but often dangerous.


Andrew Lowy, MD, clinical director of cancer surgery at UC San Diego Health Moores Cancer Center.

Early cancer detection research has brought enormous health benefits, Lippman said, resulting in screening methods that detect cancers of the cervix, breast, colon and rectum when they occur. are highly curable. Currently, however, only 5% of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed at stage 1 and only 10% in time for effective surgery. In 2020, 46,774 Americans died from pancreatic cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year relative survival rate of all major cancer killers and is the only one for which incidence and mortality rates are increasing,” said Andrew Lowy, MD, clinical director of cancer surgery at UC San Diego Health. Moores Cancer Center and Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Pancreas cancer is notoriously difficult to detect early, at a stage where surgical resection, the only curative treatment, is possible. At this stage, patients usually have few or no symptoms. »

If the study results are validated, Lippman said, “we can significantly reduce mortality from this disease that will soon become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.”

Co-authors include: Razelle Kurzrock, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Nicholas J. Schork of Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Phoenix, AZ, USA and City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA; Ashish M. Kamat of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Ramez N. Eskander UC San Diego; Mark J. Adler San Diego Cancer Research Institute; Pablo Hinestrosa, Jean M. Lewis, Gregor Schroeder, Orlando Perrera, David Searson, Kiarash Rastegar, Jake R. Hughes, Victor Ortiz, Iryna Clark, Heath I. Balcer, Larry Arakelyan, Robert Turner, Paul R. Billings and Rajaram Krishnan, all of Biological Dynamics, San Diego, CA.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institutes of Health (P30-CA023100) and the Stand Up To Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant. Cancer-Lustgarten (SU2C-AACR-DT-25-17).

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