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VIDEO: ‘Great promise’ in genetic markers for identifying malignancy in pancreatic cysts

SAN DIEGO — In this exclusive video from DDW 2016, outgoing AGA President Michael Camilleri, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., discusses two abstracts presented during the AGA Presidential Plenary that show promise for using genetic markers to improve the diagnosis of pancreatic cysts.

“These two abstracts addressed the question of ‘Are there ways in which we can find markers of premalignancy or malignancy in cyst fluid or in tissue taken from the pancreas before a full-blown diagnosis of advanced cancer is made?’” Camilleri said.

The first, an international, multicenter study evaluating cyst fluid samples from about 600 patients, showed a panel of molecular markers was able to reliably differentiate between pancreatic cyst types.

“Cyst fluid taken at the time of surgery for pancreatic lesions was examined for about 11 types of gene mutations or polymorphisms, and in fact these show that there is great promise in studying these types of DNA changes for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in cyst fluid,” Camilleri said.

In the second study, researchers identified and validated novel methylated DNA markers that were able to differentiate between high-grade precursor lesions or cancer and low-grade precursor lesions or normal pancreatic tissue.

“Again it appears ... there is an ability to differentiate between lesions of the pancreas that produce cysts but have very low risk of malignancy in contrast to those cysts and lesions of the pancreas that are associated with changes in DNA methylation [and] are associated with a much greater chance of transition to a malignant transformation,” Camilleri said. “These are two tremendous advances that will really fill a void in our evaluation and management of patients with suspicious cystic or other lesions of the pancreas.”


Majumder S, et al. Abstract #596. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 21-24, 2016; San Diego.

Springer S, et al. Abstract #597. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 21-24, 2016; San Diego.

Disclosures: Camilleri reports financial relationships with AstraZeneca, Biokier, Consu Pharmaceuticals, Entera Health Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Mayo Clinic: Rhythm, NIH, NPS Pharmaceuticals, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Shionogi, Shire Pharmaceuticals, SK-Bio, SK Life Science Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Theravance, Tsumura & Co., and Vibrant.

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