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Presentation date

Summer 8-10-2022

Faculty Mentor

Surinder K. Batra, PhD

Research Mentor

Prakash Kshirsagar, PhD


Pancreatic Cancer (PC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality in America with nearly 50,000 deaths annually. Furthermore, PC’s low 5-year survival rate, 11% overall, is highly dependent on the stage during which it is diagnosed and treated. When confined to the pancreas, the 5-year survival rate has been shown to reach as high as 42%, a nearly four-fold increase. Due to significant mortality differences dependent on PC stage, there is an utmost clinical need to diagnose PC as early as possible to maximize the chance of favorable patient outcomes. Most PC diagnostic methods currently involve imaging techniques including x-rays, CT, MRI, US, PET, ERCP. Issues with these techniques include levels of discomfort for the patient and higher costs and commitment to diagnose PC. For this reason, noninvasive diagnostic tests, such as CA 19-9 and CEA antigen blood tests are widely used to better inform patient outcomes. Current blood tests struggle to show appropriate specificity or sensitivity to reliably diagnose PC, including the limited ability to discriminate between benign and malignant tumors. Lacking validity may lead to patients over or under-investing in PC treatment. In comparison to blood antigens, microRNA (miRNA) is a biomarker that can be much more capable of diagnosing PC. The miRNAs consist of strands of around 20 base pairs in length that are transcribed in the body for gene regulation, controlling the expression of over half of our total genes. Aberrant expression of miRNAs are associated with PC. Current diagnostic tests that utilize miRNA biomarkers (e.g., microarray, qPCR) lack the sensitivity and limit of detection (LOD) required to assay normal versus aberrant miRNA levels since they are designed to detect longer nucleotide chains. Current methods are also cumbersome to use as they require extreme precaution and resources to collect data and avoid contamination. We propose new nanoparticle-based DNA-AuNP technology that will run a real time in situ assay of a patient’s serum sample to more reliably inform PC diagnosis early on.


Pancreatic Cancer, miRNA, Gold Nanoparticles, Nanoparticles, Serum Diagnosis

Quantifying Serum miRNA using DNA-Gold Nanoparticles: A Modern Approach to Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer