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New nanoparticle imaging agent can help diagnose heart disease, breast cancer

April 05, 2016

Researchers are continuing to refine the assay, and are looking to develop a method that would allow them to evaluate hundreds of samples at once. Eventually, they hope this would lead to a test in which patients submit blood samples through their local doctors' offices, which are then sent to centralized laboratories for processing.

"Screening for pancreatic cancer would not be done through the general population because it's a fairly rare cancer. Rather, a test like this could potentially be used to screen people who are in high risk groups - those with a family history of pancreatic cancer, people who are obese or smoke, and people who have long-term diabetes or pancreatitis," Lubman says.

Researchers believe that a similar test could be used for colon and liver cancer, although more work is needed to identify the best markers in those diseases.

The researchers will continue to refine the markers to allow them to better and more reliably distinguish early stage pancreatic cancer. They will also begin testing this approach in larger samples. This test is not available to patients at this time.

Pancreatic cancer statistics: 43,140 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 36,800 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Source: University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center