Danbury, Norwalk hospital researchers seek blood test for pancreatic cancer

rna-seqfrom newstimes.com by Mackenzie Rigg

Local medical researchers hope their findings lead to creation of a blood test that will allow for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal malignancies.

Eighty percent of U.S. patients with the disease die within a year of diagnosis.

“I’ve lost too many patients,” said Dr. Richard Frank, an oncologist at the Western Connecticut Health Network. “I’m sick of it. Whatever I can do to apply our resources to it, I’m going to do.”

Frank, who is the director of clinical cancer research at Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center, said there is no accepted method of screening for early detection of the disease.

He is leading a study with Dr. Cristiano Ferlini, the director of medical research at the WCHN Biomedical Research Institute in Danbury.

Launched four months ago, the study has 10 patients from Danbury and Norwalk hospitals and researchers hope to recruit about 40 more. Blood samples collected monthly from each patient are screened for different types of RNA.

Researchers hope to identify patterns in the RNA sequencing that would provide insight on how to improve treatment and management of pancreatic cancer and ultimately to creation of a simple blood test that would allow for early detection.

“We’re looking for changes in the blood before treatment and after treatment,” Frank said. “Maybe through that analysis we can find a marker of the cancer that goes away with the treatment.”

The study received seed funding through a $49,000 grant from the West Hartford-based Ron Foley Foundation, which raises money for pancreatic cancer research.

“When we visited Dr. Ferlini’s laboratory and spoke to him and Dr. Frank, we were impressed by the world-class facilities and by their passionate commitment to helping people with pancreatic cancer,” said Barbara Foley, the foundation’s president, in a statement.

“We know funding for basic research is very hard to get, and we hope that our gift will enhance WCHN’s ability to get more financial support for this exciting project,” Foley said.

Source – newstimes.com


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