Inspired by a U.S. report that said a special ribonucleic acid (RNA) was found in large amounts in tissue of pancreatic tumours, a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo developed a method that uses chemical processing to single out only sequences characteristic of the RNA, precisely measuring the levels of the special RNA in blood samples.
“If the technology eventually allows physicians to identify individuals who have likely developed pancreatic cancer through blood analysis at health check-ups, the disease will be able to be detected in its early stages through subsequent detailed testing,” said Takahiro Kishikawa, a specially appointed clinician at the gastroenterology department of the University of Tokyo Hospital.
The team’s findings were published in the online edition of the U.S. scientific journal JCI Insight on June 2.
Comparing 30 pancreatic cancer patients with 30 healthy individuals, the researchers found those suffering from the carcinoma had five times higher levels of the special RNA than healthy people.
The scientists then set a certain criterion of the RNA level in blood to judge whether one is likely suffering from pancreatic cancer based on the results of a blood test.
According to the standard, 22 patients with pancreatic cancer tested positive, while the test was negative for 27 healthy individuals.
Meanwhile, six of the 10 people who had benign tumours that could develop into pancreatic carcinoma showed positive reactions to the test.
According to the National Cancer Centre, 39,000 individuals are estimated to have been newly diagnosed as having pancreatic cancer in the last year alone.
The research team said it will continue working to improve the accuracy of the method by testing it with more people.
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