12 2017 Cancer letters

Speeding towards individualized treatment for pancreatic cancer by taking an alternative road.


Accumulation of genetic mutations drives the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Contrary to what it is expected, however, genetic analyses, no matter how precise or detailed, do not allow the identification of patient groups with different clinical outcomes or the selection of specific treatments. In fact, clinical outcome and sensitivity to treatments are associated with a given phenotype and are therefore associated at a transcriptomic level. In practical terms, therefore, the most appropriate readout for phenotypically stratifying PDACs should be transcriptomic and not genetic analysis. Recently data indicate that studying the expression of a selected gene set could inform selection of the most appropriate treatment for patients, moving towards an individualized medicine approach for this dismal disease. We are optimizing this approach by developing a platform based on obtaining organoids directly from surgical as well as endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) biopsies of tumors, which serve as a source of RNA, allowing determination of the transcription level of some informative genes. We are convinced that in the near future, the treatment of cancers will be preceded by an extensive molecular characterization of cancer cells in order to select the most appropriate treatments.

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