Prof. Dr. Karl J. Oldhafer (Asklepios Klinik Barmbek) Study title: Prospective analysis of microRNAs in pancreatic secretion – characterisation of signal molecules (microRNAs) in pancreatic digestive juice (secretion) in pancreatic cancer patients compared to patients with benign pancreatic disease

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of death in cancer patients worldwide, and has the lowest 5-year survival rate of all cancers at 9%. A key problem is that in some cases this type of cancer is only diagnosed reliably at a very late stage. At the time of the initial diagnosis, a curative approach (chemotherapy and surgical removal of the affected tissue) is only possible in 15% of patients. Despite numerous studies and improved investigation methods, no reliable methods have yet been developed that would allow earlier diagnosis and therefore improve the prognosis for patients.

The aim of this study is to compare small endogenous signal molecules (microRNAs) in whole blood and pancreatic secretion. The pancreatic secretion samples are taken during a surgical operation, and the whole blood samples are taken beforehand. The study investigates whether the occurrence of particular microRNA patterns is characteristic for patients with pancreatic cancer, benign pancreatic disease or chronic pancreatitis. If correlations exist between the blood and pancreatic secretion samples, or if there are differences between the various pancreatic disease forms, the results could bring about a significant improvement in both the diagnostics and consequently also the prognosis of affected patients.

It is hoped that the results will allow for the identification of new, clinically relevant prognostic factors and, in particular, significantly earlier diagnosis. The establishment of such early screening parameters could lead to considerable progress in terms of overall survival and the more effective treatment of pancreatic cancer patients. 

The study is being conducted at the following sites: Asklepios Klinik Barmbek, Department for Surgery Asklepios Klinik St. Georg, Core Lab Facility

Funding: Hamburger Krebsgesellschaft e.V. Internal research fund of Asklepios Kliniken Hamburg GmbH