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Optical techniques show continued promise in detecting pancreatic cancer
Date:3/2/2009

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Optical technology developed by a Northwestern University professor of biomedical engineering has been shown to be effective in detecting the presence of pancreatic cancer through analysis of neighboring tissue in the duodenum, according to clinical trial results published in the journal Disease Markers.

The promising new technology -- which researchers hope could help raise the extremely low survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients by aiding early detection -- uses novel light-scattering techniques to analyze extremely subtle changes in the cells of the duodenum, part of the small intestine neighboring the pancreas. The cells are obtained through a minimally invasive endoscopy.

The study shows that cells that appear normal using traditional microscopy techniques do show signs of abnormality when examined using the Northwestern technique, which provides cell analysis on the much smaller nanoscale.

The technology was developed by Vadim Backman, professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern, and Vladimir Turzhitsky, a graduate student in Backman's lab. Clinical trials have been conducted in collaboration with Hemant Roy, M.D., director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore University HealthSystem, and Randall Brand, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

In the study of 203 patients, the technique accurately discriminated with 95 percent sensitivity between healthy patients and those with differing stages of the disease. (Only 5 percent of patients were found to have been diagnosed with false negatives after testing.) The specificity of the testing group was 71 percent. These results confirm those of an earlier study of 51 patients published in August 2007 in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The larger number of patients in the more recent study allowed researchers to calcu
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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