Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pancreatic Cancer miRNA This week in JAMA

Earlier this month an article in JAMA studied the expression pattern of miRNAs (microRNA) in pancreatic cancer. What they found was pretty important.
From Medical News Today May 5th 2005

"Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease, with the annual deaths nearly equaling the incidence of 33,000 in the United States, according to background information in the article. In humans, aberrant expression of miRNAs contributes to carcinogenesis by promoting the expression of proto-oncogenes (a normal gene that has the potential to become an oncogene) (a gene that can cause a cell to become malignant) or by inhibiting the expression of tumor suppressor genes"

From JAMA 2007 May 2;297(17):1901-8

CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatic cancer may have a distinct miRNA expression pattern that may differentiate it from normal pancreas and chronic pancreatitis. miRNA expression patterns may be able to distinguish between long- and short-term survivors, but these findings need to be validated in other study populations.
Expression of miR-196a-2 was found to predict poor survival (median, 14.3 months [95% confidence interval, 12.4-16.2] vs 26.5 months [95% confidence interval, 23.4-29.6]; P = .009).
What does this mean? It means we may very well be on the way to the predictive part of personalized medicine in pancreatic cancer. Obviously replication needs to be accomplished.
But the results were pretty convincing as far as statistic goes. By predicting survival time we can help the patients and their families with this horrible and most often fatal cancer. More importantly perhaps this signature pattern may allow us to develop molecular therapies to target the tumors associated with the worst outcomes.
The Gene Sherpa says: If you have family members with early breast cancer (younger than 50) you may be at risk for pancreatic cancer. You should speak with your doctor about having genetic counseling.

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