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MicroRNA Diagnostic Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets for Pancreatic Cancer

Life Sciences
College of Pharmacy
Schmittgen, Thomas
Brackett, Daniel
Licensing Manager
Davis, Stewart

T2005-083 A novel microRNA expression pattern for the detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The Need

Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer. It is expected to become the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in the US by the year 2020, surpassing colorectal cancer (American Cancer Society, 2017). In 2017 an estimated 53,670 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and over 43,090 will die from pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 91% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 9% will survive more than five years (American Cancer Society, 2017). Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible. Although the number of novel biomarkers discovered for early diagnosis of the disease has been increasing during the last couple of years, no molecular signature is ready to be implemented in clinical routine.

The Technology

Inventors at The Ohio State University, led by former professor and researcher Dr. Thomas Schmittgen, discovered a distinct microRNA expression pattern that has been associated with pancreatic cancer. This was accomplished with high throughput screening of over 200 microRNAs known to be associated with human pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Paired adjacent tissue and commercially available RNA from a normal pancreas were used for comparison. The unique pattern, resulting from the altered expression of specific microRNAs, that is present in pancreatic tumors, provides diagnostic biomarker(s) for the detection of the disease.

Commercial Applications

  • Pancreatic Cancer Detection and Diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Cancer Pharmaceuticals and Inhibitors


  • The biomarker has the potential to provide earlier detection and more accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
  • Increased patient survival time
  • The technology could lend itself to the development of new drugs and therapies to inhibit or block the progression of pancreatic cancer