New blood test to detect Pancreatic cancer early may be available in two years

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LONDON: A new blood test that can detect pancreatic cancer with 96% accuracy at stages one or two could be made available to British patients within a few years. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease because it often remains undetected until it reaches an advanced stage. At these early stages, however, there is still the possibility of successful surgical intervention, according to Carl Borrebaeck, professor at the department of Immunotechnology at Lund University, and lead author of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Prof Borrebaeck told HuffPost UK that all being well, the test could be made available in the UK in two years time.

There are very few treatment options for advanced pancreatic cancer – the stage at which it is usually diagnosed –  and fewer than 7% of people with pancreatic cancer currently live for five years or more. By 2030, it is expected to be the second deadliest type of cancer in the world.

But the new test from Sweden could change this. It works by using an antibody-based technology which creates a snapshot of the immune system response from a single drop of blood. The test then reveals the most clinically relevant changes that appear in the blood, and combines this knowledge into a “disease fingerprint” also known as a biomarker signature.

A series of advanced algorithms and bioinformatics are then used to test which combination of biomarkers best identifies pancreatic cancer. It can then match these “disease fingerprints” to determine whether the patient has early stage cancer.

Development of the test began in 2001 and there have since been nine studies involving just under 3,000 patients. A clinical trial is currently taking place in London and the test could become available in the US and UK in two years, Prof Borrebaeck said.