The Hirshberg Foundation’s Seed Grant Program remains instrumental in funding pancreatic cancer research worldwide, spanning many critical areas. Although pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early, the Foundation is committed to changing these outcomes through scientific advancement. With this goal in mind, in 2017, Nelson Yee, MD, PhD, RPh was awarded a Seed Grant to fund a project for early detection: Extracellular Vesicles as Biomarkers for Early Detection of Recurrent Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. The aim of Dr. Yee’s study is to determine whether Nanoscale extracellular vesicles cargo proteins and nucleic acids can sensitively detect early recurrence of pancreatic cancer. Early detection is a critical step to fighting pancreatic cancer. As he continues to make strides forward, we look forward to sharing more updates.
In 2022, Dr. Yee shared that ten (evaluable) enrolled patients had undergone surgical resection of pancreatic carcinoma. Each patient was followed up with surveillance and their blood specimens were to be collected and stored as described in the protocol. Dr. Yee and his team have been analyzing (using the proposed methodology and novel methodology) the blood specimens for extracellular vesicles and genetic mutations along with the clinicopathological data.
2023 Project Abstract:
The mortality rate of pancreatic cancer is among the highest among all human malignancies, and treatment is mostly palliative except for patients with localized tumor that can be resected with a curable intent. Even following surgical resection, the rate of tumor recurrence either locally or as distant metastasis is frequently high. Molecular biomarkers for early detection of tumor recurrence following surgical resection will facilitate prompt treatment and improve patient survival. However, there is no sensitive and specific method or biomarkers for detecting tumor recurrence.
Nanoscale extracellular vesicles (nEVs), molecules in bodily fluids, contain proteins and nucleic acids, which can reflect disease status. Hence, we hypothesize nEV cargo proteins and nucleic acids could sensitively detect early recurrence of pancreatic cancer. In our previous study, we developed a lipid nanoprobe (LNP) system for rapid and efficient nEV isolation and performed subsequent nEV cargo analyses. The LNP system overcomes low throughput, low purity and other common shortcomings in nEV isolation, showing great potential for clinical use. This proposed research aims to use the LNP system to analyze several key proteins and genetic mutations, and to evaluate these molecules as biomarkers of pancreatic cancer recurrence.
The validation of this hypothesis will demonstrate the potential of nEV cargo as a promising tool to track evolution of pancreatic carcinoma and monitor tumor dynamics with the goal of improving survival of patients. We have completed collection of the blood specimens and molecular data as well as the clinicopathological data of the enrolled subjects. We have been analyzing the biospecimens along with the clinicopathological data, and we expect to report the study results in the year 2024.
To date, the Hirshberg Foundation has provided funding for more than 120 research projects in the following areas: treatment/therapy, patient care, early diagnosis, detection, cancer biology, basic science, prevention/metabolism and research core facilities. Make a donation today in support of early detection research and cutting-edge science funded by the Hirshberg Foundation.