Compositions and Methods for Detecting Pancreatic Cancer

Introduction Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal disease; it is highly invasive and unresponsive to standard chemotherapy. The discovery of genes that cause familial forms of cancers has often shed light on the biology of the sporadic form of the disease. University of Washington researchers have identified an inherited gene mutation in the cytoskeleton scaffold gene, Palladin, which leads to a highly penetrant autosomal dominant form of Familial Pancreatic Cancer. They have demonstrated that the consequence of the mutation, a change in amino acids, causes loss of binding of alpha-actinin and a change in morphology of actin bundles. Additionally, they have shown that Palladin over-expression is present early in the process of tumorigenesis and also in sporadic pancreatic cancer. Technology description The present invention provides methods and compositions for detecting the presence of and/or assessing the risk of pancreatic cancer. These methods include methods of detecting and diagnosing pancreatic cancer; methods of identifying individuals at risk of developing pancreatic cancer; and methods of staging pancreatic cancer. The methods generally involve detecting a palladin gene nucleotide substitution that has been found to be associated with pancreatic cancer and/or detecting a level of a palladin mRNA and/or protein in a biological sample. Business opportunity Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is difficult to detect, early to metastasize and resistant to treatment. Nearly every person diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die from it, usually within 12 months of diagnosis. Familial clustering of pancreatic cancers is commonly recognized, occurring in at least 10%
of all pancreatic cancer. The risk of pancreatic cancer increases further with each family member who is affected. Current methods for diagnosing pancreatic cancer include computed tomography scanning, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography scanning, endoscopic ultrasonography, laparoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography, and biopsy. There is a need for better methods of detecting pancreatic cancer. Intellectual property position The University has applied for patent protection to secure the rights to this technology.

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