In the second of our Raise for Research posts we're talking to Dr. Eithne Costello, a senior lecturer in Molecular Biology at the Division of Surgery and Oncology. Dr. Costellois currently researching at the University of Liverpool, funded by a Pancreatic Cancer UK grant:
"Pancreatic cancer most often goes undetected until it is at an advanced stage. Diagnosing pancreatic cancer earlier would enable more patients to have surgery, improving the outlook for people with this disease. Blood tests for the detection of pancreatic cancer do not currently exist and are urgently needed.
With Pancreatic Cancer UK funding we have examined the levels of 101 cancer-associated proteins in blood from 1) patients with pancreatic cancer, 2) patients with other diseases of the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis and 3) healthy control individuals. Our aim is to find differences in the levels of proteins that indicate either the presence of pancreatic cancer or the presence of a benign disease of the pancreas, enabling cancer to be ruled out. To this end, we have analysed our data using mathematical modelling techniques, and we ultimately hope to arrive at a panel of discriminatory proteins.
A number of proteins have stood out as highly elevated in patients with pancreatic cancer or as particularly altered in the disease control groups. Current work is focused on further evaluating the levels of these, in larger numbers of samples from our collection to see if the patterns observed so far are maintained.
Three proteins have been evaluated up to now, and additional ones will be analysed in the coming months. When sufficient data are collected on individual proteins, combining proteins will be undertaken, in order to establish a panel of markers that will accurately discriminate pancreatic cancer patients from patients with other pancreatic diseases and from healthy individuals."
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