Despite the advancements in research the outcome for patients with pancreatic cancer has improved very little. The vast majority of patients present with metastatic disease and the 5-year survival rate for these patients is ~7%, in part due to its significant heterogeneity. Patients undergoing treatment would benefit from a non-invasive method to develop a more accurate prognosis or determine mutational profiles and monitor responses to treatments in order to maximise their effectiveness and avoid side effects from unnecessary or ineffective treatments. Further, current serum-based prognostic markers such as CA19-9 are not sufficiently sensitive or specific.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) offer an attractive target for possible prognostic markers, they provide a wealth of information about their parent cell, are abundant in many easily accessible bodily fluids and protect their contents from their surrounding environment.
Utilizing a unique panel of 8 patient-derived pancreatic cancer cell lines , EVs released into culture media were collected via ultrafiltration, size and concentration were characterised using nanoparticle tracking analysis, and RNA isolated and characterized using chip-based electrophoresis. TaqMan Array cards were used to compare RNA profiles of 40 selected targets between cultured cells and collected EVs to determine if pancreatic cancer molecular subtypes of parent cells could be determined from the EVs.
The ability to identify these molecular subtypes potentially provides a less invasive, more accurate prognosis, and may improve outcomes for people affected by this devastating disease. This will also contribute to a greater understanding of the relationship between cancer cells and their released EVs.