Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium
A novel immunoassay that identifies and quantifies blood
levels of the PAM4 protein may detect early-stage pancreatic cancer, according
to study findings presented ahead of the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers
PAM4 is a unique antigen present in almost 90% of
pancreatic cancers and its precursor lesions, but not in normal pancreas cells
and rarely in pancreatitis.
According to David V. Gold, PhD, director of
laboratory administration with the Garden State Cancer Center in Belleville,
N.J., only 2% to 3% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive five years after
diagnosis as the disease is almost undetectable until it reaches the advanced
“When detected early, the survival rate improves to
20%,” Gold said during a press conference. “The goal of our work is
to provide an assay for detection and diagnosis of early stage disease, at a
time when curative procedures have a better opportunity for successful
The researchers used the PAM4-serum enzyme immunoassay
for the detection and quantification of PAM4 in the serum of 68 patients who
had surgical resection of pancreatic cancer and compared them with 19 healthy
The assay detected early pancreatic cancer with a
sensitivity of 62% for stage I disease, 86% for stage II disease, and 91% for
stage III and IV disease.
As calculated by ROC curve analysis, the overall
sensitivity for discrimination of all stages of pancreatic cancer compared with
healthy participants was 81% and specificity was 95% (AUC=0.92; 95% CI,
“Because of the very high specificity of the
antibody for pancreatic cancer, if the PAM4 protein is detected, there is a
high probability that the patient has pancreatic cancer,” Gold said.
“Detection of the PAM4 protein means that the patient may be eligible for
a novel therapy that uses radio-labeled antibodies to target and kill the tumor
cells.” – by Jason Harris
For more information:
- Gold DV. #135. Presented at: the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers
Symposium; Jan. 22-24, 2010; Orlando, Fla.
All of us in the medical profession have long struggled with the
treatment of pancreatic cancer; we’ve had very few things that have
worked. This is very exciting data. If we had a test where we could detect
disease earlier, we would obviously do better in the management of pancreatic
cancer and prevent some of the many deaths that occur every year.
– Robert P. Sticca, MD
Department of Surgery, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health