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Novel Pancreatic Cancer Screening Test to Combine DNA and Microbiome Biomarkers for Early-Stage Detection

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 May 2023
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Image: The joint research project aims to discover disease specific microbiome biomarkers (Photo courtesy of Microba Life Sciences)
Image: The joint research project aims to discover disease specific microbiome biomarkers (Photo courtesy of Microba Life Sciences)

Pancreatic cancer, a lethal tumor of the pancreas, has one of the highest mortality rates among all major cancers. Every year, this disease claims approximately 466,000 lives worldwide, ranking it as the seventh most common cause of cancer-related fatalities. Its survival rates are among the lowest for any cancer, primarily due to late detection and poor outcomes with conventional treatment options. Globally, the 5-year survival rate is around 9%. Nevertheless, an early diagnosis significantly improves this survival rate. Now, a first-in-class screening test based on novel microbiome markers is under development for this deadly cancer.

Mainz Biomed N.V. (Mainz, Germany) and Microba Life Sciences (Brisbane, Australia) have entered into a research collaboration for conducting a pilot study that uses Microba’s exclusive metagenomic sequencing technology and bioinformatic tools, with the aim of identifying new microbiome biomarkers for the detection of pancreatic cancer. Mainz Biomed is already progressing with an early-stage pancreatic cancer screening test, known as PancAlert. The test uses multiplex real-time PCR to identify genetic biomarkers in stool samples, and it is expected that this approach will be enhanced by incorporating microbiome biomarkers.

The project, scheduled to continue until the end of 2023, will employ Microba’s Community Profiler (MCP), a unique metagenomic platform technology. MCP has proven to be a top-tier research tool, able to generate detailed and precise species profiles of human gastrointestinal samples. The microbiome offers a plethora of medically relevant biomarkers that can be harnessed for therapeutic development or creating diagnostic tools. As the gut microbiome is adjustable, informed clinicians can enhance the biomarkers linked with treatment response. Microba’s biomarker discovery method employs its robust analysis platform and state-of-the-art informatic strategies to ensure superior resolution, access to new uncultured bacteria, and minimal false positives. Its artificial intelligence capabilities allow it to swiftly pinpoint diagnostic microbiome signatures from vast datasets.

“We are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Microba as PancAlert is being developed for early-stage disease detection with the goal of being a first-in-class screening test for this deadly form of cancer,” said Guido Baechler, Chief Executive Officer of Mainz Biomed. “Given the growing understanding of the microbiome’s role in pancreatic cancer, we believe it’s of paramount importance to explore integrating diagnostic microbiome biomarkers into the test as it advances to the clinical stage of development and as such, are delighted to align with a global leader in sourcing and analyzing microbiome generated species and datasets.”

Related Links:
Mainz Biomed N.V. 
Microba Life Sciences

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