A blood test used on sample tissues to detect early stage pancreatic cancer is showing encouraging results and one day may lead to improved detection and treatment of the disease in high-risk individuals.
Immunomedics, a New Jersey biopharmaceutical company, says it has developed a blood test based on its humanized antibody, clivatuzumab, that correctly identified nearly two-thirds of patients with early stage pancreatic cancer.
Dr. David V. Gold, Director of Laboratory Administration and Senior Member of the Garden State Cancer Center in Morris Plains, NJ, developed the first antibody form of clivatuzumab. He presented the findings to the media at the 2012 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco. A scientific presentation is scheduled for January 20, 2012.
Dr. Gold said early detection, in addition to better therapeutics, is urgently needed for patients with pancreatic cancer.
"Pancreatic cancer symptoms are vague, and the disease tends to develop and grow silently. By the time it is detected, it has often spread to other parts of the body, making it nearly impossible to cure. These study results are extremely encouraging.”
Advances in cancer screening and treatment have prevented more than one million cancer deaths and contributed to the lowering of cancer death rates, according to recent cancer statistics from the American Cancer Society.
However the lack of early detection and effective treatments for pancreatic cancer have resulted in a dismal five-year survival rate of only 2 percent for patients diagnosed with advanced disease. Most of these patients die within six months of diagnosis. Men and women are equally affected by pancreatic cancer.
At present, there is no test approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
In the study, the blood test measuring levels of a protein called PAM4 correctly identified patients with pancreatic cancer 76 percent of the time.