Asuragen Inc announces that it has entered into research agreements with The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Dartmouth’s Hitchcock Medical Center and the University of Sherbrooke to develop a microRNA-based diagnostic test to aid the detection of pancreatic cancer from fine-needle aspirate (FNA) biopsies.

The collaborative sites will provide clinical expertise and samples to help Asuragen evaluate the clinical utility of a microRNA (miRNA) test based on FNA biopsies to distinguish pancreatic adenocarcinoma from chronic pancreatitis and other non-cancerous conditions. These studies will be used to expand Asuragen’s current pancreatic cancer test program. The Company introduced the world’s first miRNA-based diagnostic test in 2008, which aids in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in formalin-fixed specimens. The FNA-based pancreatic cancer test is expected to be made available in Asuragen’s CLIA laboratory in the second half of 2010.

Dr David Whitcomb, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said, “We are happy to be working with Asuragen on the development of tests to improve the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. More accurate diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma using FNA samples will improve the clinical decisions in cases of suspected pancreatic cancer and help improve the management of patients for which conventional cytopathology is indeterminate.”

Dr Darwin Conwell, Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said, “The recent data using miRNA in pancreas cancer is promising. We are pleased to participate in this multi-center study to enhance the diagnosis of pancreas cancer using recent advances in molecular biology. It is our hope that this study will clarify the diagnosis and help direct treatment strategies of our patients.”

“We are pleased to have research partnerships with many of the key scientific and clinical thought leaders in the field of pancreatic cancer and look forward to the participation of additional sites,” said Matt Winkler, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Science Officer of Asuragen. “These clinical alliances place Asuragen at the cutting edge of pancreatic cancer molecular diagnostics and support the Company’s goal to be a leader in the discovery and development of diagnostic products to improve the lives of cancer patients.”

Source: Asuragen Inc