"Curation and databases are not very sexy concepts," says Pandey. "But we can't keep doing the exciting new discovery stuff and never take the time to catalog our results and share them."
Taking pancreatic cancer biomarkers to prove the value of such a strategic "big picture" approach, Pandey says it could serve as a basis for other disease-marker research.
"For the first time with pancreatic cancer and potentially with any cancer we have a handle on the number of candidates already identified and a real sense of how big an army we should send on the mission of further testing them," says Pandey.
Pandey's ultimate goal is to ferret out the best protein biomarker for pancreatic cancer a molecule that reveals itself in an accessible bodily fluid and therefore can be detected with ease and accuracy just like the protein biomarker that's made early on by a developing fetus and is exploited by at-home pregnancy tests.
The "gold standard" pancreatic cancer biomarker would possess both high sensitivity and specificity for early diagnosis. Cancer, at its most basic, is an abnormal population of cells that produce specific molecules biomarkers which healthy, cancer-free bodies do not. Cancer also tends to be incipient, Pandey says.
The ideal biomarker would allow for easy diagnosis when a cancer is still young, before it spreads to other organs. It could also help clinicians make informed decisions about treatments and better predict of outcomes, Pandey says: "Biomarkers could tell us who should undergo surgery, who should get chemotherapy, and in which people a cancer is likely to recur."
Biomarker discovery is an exploding area of research, Pandey says, yielding ever-increasing amounts of data more than any one person can hope to keep tra
|Contact: Maryalice Yakutchik;|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions