U-M Enters Collaboration to Improve Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer Mutation


The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has partnered with San Diego-based Trovagene Inc., a developer of circulating tumor DNA molecular diagnostics, on a research collaboration that will test the effect of various therapies on patients with a pancreatic cancer gene mutation.

The collaboration will use Trovagene’s KRAS ctDNA liquid biopsy test to detect the KRAS gene — the most commonly mutated gene in pancreatic cancer — and provide rapid monitoring of an individual patient’s response with the gene to various chemotherapies.

“About 90 to 95 percent of patients actually have this (gene) mutation within their cancer,” says Victoria Raymond, director of medical and scientific affairs at Trovagene. “It’s becomes really important to identify this mutation because it provides further confirmation that it is indeed pancreatic cancer that (patients are) dealing with, and it also has the potential to be a really informative biomarker.”

Surgery is currently the only cure for pancreatic cancer. However, less than 20 percent of patients are eligible for surgery as a result of the disease being diagnosed too late.

“There is an urgent need for targeted therapies and a precision diagnostic test,” says Diane Simeone, director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center. “The Trovagene assay will allow us to quickly test multiple therapies to determine which one will be most effective in treating an individual patient’s tumor.”

The University of Michigan Cancer Center is one of 45 centers in the United States to earn the National Cancer Institute’s comprehensive designation. The center is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a consortium of 27 of the nation’s premier centers, which develops national guidelines for the delivery of effective, quality care.