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AI-Powered Blood Test Enables Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer in High-Risk Patients

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 May 2023
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Image: Avantect test has shown a strong performance for early detection of pancreatic cancer with epigenomics (Photo courtesy of Freepik)
Image: Avantect test has shown a strong performance for early detection of pancreatic cancer with epigenomics (Photo courtesy of Freepik)

Pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, is frequently diagnosed too late for effective treatment. Patients recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are eight times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than the general population. As pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2030, early detection and diagnosis can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival. Now, a simple DNA-based blood test, designed for patients at high risk for pancreatic cancer, including those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes aged 50 and above, can identify pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages.

The Avantect Pancreatic Cancer Test from ClearNote Health (San Diego, CA, USA) detects early-stage pancreatic cancer by measuring the biomarker 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) through a simple blood draw. The test leverages ClearNote's epigenomic platform, which monitors active biological events occurring in tumors at the earliest stages of cancer formation. The proprietary, automated, 5hmC-based epigenomic platform enriches DNA fragments using 5hmC labeling, targeting a subset of dynamically demethylated bases. This method allows for efficient and highly accurate evaluations of biological events linked to gene expression and regulation, which are crucial to cancer development.

A recent study demonstrated the Avantect test's strong performance in detecting pancreatic cancer in high-risk patients, such as those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The case-control validation study, based on 2,150 patient samples, showed high specificity (96.9%) and early-stage (Stage I/II) sensitivity (68.3%). These findings support the use of ClearNote's epigenomic platform for effectively identifying cancer presence in individuals at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer, ultimately enabling prompt disease detection and intervention.

“We continue to build the evidence base supporting the use of the Avantect Pancreatic Cancer Test as a way to identify patients at earlier stages of pancreatic cancer from among high-risk populations, such as those with new-onset Type 2 diabetes,” said Samuel Levy, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, ClearNote Health. “Our unique approach to early detection combines epigenomics with genomic alterations and fragmentomics as input to sophisticated machine learning algorithms. This enables us to offer clinicians an early detection test that can be used to guide patient management recommendations, and identify pancreatic cancers at early, treatable stages when longer-term patient survival is still possible.”

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