February 10, 2009
1 min read

PAM4 recognized early biomarker for pancreatic carcinoma

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2009 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium

The PAM4 antibody identified a mucin glycoprotein present at the earliest stages of pancreatic carcinoma, according to the results of a recent study.

“We have developed a PAM4 immunohistologic procedure that can identify approximately 90% of invasive pancreatic carcinoma, as well as its precursor lesions,” said David V. Gold, PhD, a professor of medicine at the Center for Molecular Medicine and Immunology in Belleville, N.J. The goal now is for researchers to determine if PAM4 has clinical utility for early detection of pancreatic cancers, he said.

Gold’s presentation extended previously published data for immunohistochemical results in precursor lesions to include mucinous cystic neoplasms. The researchers found that PAM4 gave an intense, diffuse labeling pattern in 81% of such neoplasms. Another 11% of specimens showed a focal labeling pattern.

Updating data from 2006 that reported on the development of enzyme immunoassay for quantification of PAM4 antigen in sera, the researchers were able to confirm that the assay demonstrated about 80% sensitivity and 95% specificity for pancreatic carcinoma. The overwhelming majority of patients with early, stage-1 disease were identified as positive by use of this immunoassay. – by Jason Harris


What is interesting about this is that they found a marker that is present in pancreatic cancer as well as in some of the precursor lesions in pancreatic cancer but not present in the normal pancreas. That is an important differentiator in the specificity of the test. It looks like they have only studied this in a small number of cases and a small number of patients with very early-stage disease, so it is certainly not ready for prime time at this point. But as they continue to develop it, this may be the kind of thing we need to detect pancreatic cancer earlier when it is more curable. I think it looks very promising.

– Richard L. Schilsky, MD

Professor of Medicine,
Section of Hematology-Oncology, University of Chicago

For more information:

  • Gold DV. #113. Presented at: the 2009 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium; Jan. 15-17, 2009; San Francisco.