Leverage protease activity in circulating hybrid cells and exosomes for early detection of cancer

Principal Investigators: Dr Jared Fischer, Oregon Health & Science University, Dr Utkan Demirci, Stanford University, Dr Melissa Wong, Oregon Health & Science University, Prof Antonis Antoniou, University of Cambridge

Funded by: ACED Pilot Award 2020

Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer related deaths partly due to the difficulty in diagnosing the disease early. There are currently no reliable screening tests for pancreatic cancer, highlighting the need to develop early detection biomarkers that are sensitive and specific for pre-cancerous stages, and that can differentiate early cancer from high risk conditions.

In this project they will use a multi-analyte approach combining isolated circulating hybrid cells and exosomes with proteolytic activity assay to develop a test for early stage pancreatic cancer. Proteolytic enzymes have a strong correlation with cancer progression and invasion and we have evidence that early stage pancreatic cancer strongly correlates with high proteolytic activity. By measuring the proteolytic activity assay within specific cells and exosomes, they hope to further enhance the sensitivity and specificity for detecting pancreatic cancer early.