Harvard-MGH Liquid Biopsy Assay Targets Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

NEW YORK (360Dx) – A multiplexed nanoplasmonic assay designed specifically to fit into clinical workflows is taking aim at high-throughput detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), an aggressive and often inoperable form of pancreatic cancer.

Developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, the assay employs a liquid biopsy approach, leveraging low blood volumes and the clinical potential of exosomes — tiny vesicles shed by all kinds of cells, including tumor cells.

 The researchers said that Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Exosome Diagnostics has licensed the technology and is exploring integrating the test with its own portfolio of exosome tests to explore the potential for “doing concurrent testing of exosome-based proteins and mRNA.”

Among other biological molecules freely circulating in the blood as cancer biomarkers, extracellular vesicles represent “a promising target for the minimally invasive diagnosis of pancreatic cancer based on liquid biopsy,” said Giuseppe Spoto, a professor of chemical sciences at the University of Catania in Italy, and coordinator of a European Union-sponsored research project that integrates plasmonics in the detection of DNA, microRNA, and protein-based tumor autoantibody detection.

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