Protein In Blood Could Be ‘Marker’ For Pancreatic Cancer, Study Suggests

Protein In Blood Could Be ‘Marker’ For Pancreatic Cancer, Study Suggests
Blood Cells Andrew Mason / Flickr CC BY 2.0

A protein in one’s blood can be a significant “marker” in detecting early stage of pancreatic cancer with 100 percent accuracy, said a new study published by Nature journal.


According to a team of researchers from different countries, tumor cells encourage the growth of protein, which shows up in exosomes — particles as small as the virus — and expelled by the cells in the body. But researchers clarified that protein will only appear in exosomes when a person has cancer. The higher the protein found in exosomes, the higher the stage of the cancer.

The study also suggests that with this breakthrough discovery, the protein in exosomes can also be used to measure or detect progression of cancers before and after a treatment, such as surgery to remove tumors.

Dr. Raghu Kalluri, a co-author of the study, scrutinized serum samples of 190 patients diagnosed with cancer, 32 patients suffering from breast cancer and a hundred healthy individuals. Researchers found proteins varied in levels according to the severity of cancer, but none was found among healthy volunteers.

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Screening Available This Year

According to Kalluri, its screening test might become available this year depending on the “current strength of the study.”

But though the recent development is very promising, experts commented which was published by NBC News that verification and validation “by other studies” are needed and even when it “passes muster,” the same may require time in developing a test which could screen patients for cancers.

Kalluri said that should the study be confirmed, it “will make a difference because it is one of the cancers we do not have any reliable screening test for” because pancreatic cancer kills quickly.

NBC further reported quoting Dr. Timothy Donahue from University of California that pancreatic cancer can be predicted, yet it remains to be “the fourth leading cause of cancer death” in America, and “if the current prevalence and survival rate continues, it will become number two within the next five to 10 years.”

In a report by the National Cancer Institute, around 48,960 estimated “pancreatic-cancer cases will be diagnosed” in 2015 and around 40,560 people will likely die from it.