MicroRNAs as markers for IPMNs (early pancreatic cancer?)

Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) are not fully understood, but are felt by many to be precursor tumors to full blown pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas).

Thus, an interesting study was recently published by Italian researchers including Giovannetti and colleagues from the University of Pisa in the Annals of Oncology (the official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology – ESMO) which examined the possible role of microRNAs as biomarkers for IPMNs.

The researchers examined and compared miR-21, miR-101, and miR-155 levels in 86 biopsy specimens of IPMNs. They additionally looked at relationships between these levels and overall survival and disease-free survival of the patients with these IPMNs.

The one microRNA that appeared to offer prognostic value as a biomarker in terms of IPMN risk was miR-21. The authors suggest that these results (especially involving miR-21) be further examined in future studies.

Further research into the role of miRNAs, these small 22-nucleotide non-coding RNA molecules, as possible biomarkers for pancreatic cancer should be of great interest.

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Dale O’Brien, MD