Pancreatic Disorders & Therapy

Pancreatic Disorders & Therapy
Open Access

ISSN: 2165-7092

+1 504 6082390


Circulating DNA and Micro-RNA in Patients with Pancreatic Cancer

Eveline E Vietsch, Casper HJ van Eijck and Anton Wellstein

Collecting repeat samples of blood ("liquid biopsies") is a broadly used clinical approach for serial monitoring of disease or response to treatments. In patients with cancer the most distinct molecular feature are somatic mutations acquired by cancer cells present in the diseased tissue. Indeed, mutant DNA derived from dying or lysed cancer cells can be isolated from patient serum samples, subjected to DNA sequencing and to analysis of abundance as a measure of tumor burden. Also, changes in the DNA mutation patterns in serum samples collected over time can indicate altered pathways or clonal evolution of the disease and altered abundance of mutant DNA suggests an altered disease burden. In addition, during the course of treatment, changes in circulating DNA mutation patterns can indicate the emergence of resistant clones and prompt changes in treatment. In contrast to mutant DNA, microRNAs (miR) are transcribed, processed, packaged and released from cells in normal and in diseased tissues as part of the extracellular crosstalk between cells. Interestingly, released miR can function in cell-to-cell communication and as hormone-like signals that operate at a distance through their release into the circulation and subsequent uptake into cells in distant tissues. Circulating miR expression patterns can be established from serial serum samples and monitored for alterations over time. Circulating miR provide a readout of the organism's steady state and serial analyses will indicate changes in the response to therapy or an altered physiologic or disease state. Furthermore, changes in circulating miR patterns can indicate treatment efficacy or resistance as well as adverse effects associated with the respective intervention. Thus, the combined serial analysis of mutant DNA and miR in the circulation has the potential to provide a molecular footprint of pancreatic cancer and can be used to monitor treatment responses or resistance to treatment in real time with a minimally invasive procedure.