Grants - Translational Grants - California - 2017

Kimberly Kirkwood, M.D.

Pancreatic cancer is highly lethal. Successful treatment may be possible if the cancer is identified early, but most pancreatic cancers are not caught until they have spread. Some pancreatic cancers start off as cysts, or fluid-filled sacs. Not all pancreatic cysts are cancerous though. It is easy to see pancreatic cysts using imaging tools like MRI, and to collect fluid from them using a biopsy procedure. However, we currently don’t have any good tests to determine which cysts are likely to become cancerous. We think the necessary information may lie in proteins contained in the pancreatic cyst fluid.  Our project aims to create a test that will analyze the fluid to identify which cysts are cancerous and which are benign. By finding cancerous pancreatic cysts at an early stage, before they spread, we expect to be able to improve survival for patients. Our project will also help patients with benign cysts to avoid risky and expensive surgery. We also expect to learn more about the ways these special proteins play a role in the development of cancers in other bodily organs.