Study finds genes associated with improved survival for pancreatic cancer patients

A study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and other major research institutes, found a new set of genes that can indicate improved survival after surgery for patients with pancreatic cancer. The study also showed that detection of circulating tumour DNA in the blood could provide an early indication of tumour recurrence.

Using whole-exome sequencing – looking at the DNA protein-coding regions of 24 tumours – and targeted genomic analyses of 77 other tumours, the study identified mutations in chromatin-regulating genes MLL, MLL2, MLL3 and ARID1A in 20 percent of patients associated with improved survival.

In addition, using a liquid biopsy analysis, the study found that 43 percent of pancreatic cancer patients had circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in their bloodstream at the time of diagnosis.

Very importantly, the study also found that detection of ctDNA following surgery predicts clinical relapse of the cancer and poor outcomes for patients. In addition, using a liquid biopsy detected the recurrence of cancer 6.5 months earlier than using CT imaging.

‘These observations provide predictors of outcomes in patients with pancreatic cancer and have implications for detection of tumour recurrence, and perhaps someday for early detection of the cancer,’ said Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor and Physician-In-Chief. TGen