The high mortality rate of people with certain digestive cancers is partly due to the difficulty in diagnosing the early stages of these diseases. Treatments are thus implemented late, which reduces their effectiveness while the disease has had time to evolve unfavorably and metastasize to spread. Today, researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) highlight the role of extracellular vesicles, small structures acting as mediators of inter cellular communication, the number and morphology of which in the bile are an accurate marker of Presence of tumors.

Digestive cancers

Their results, to be read in Gastroenterology, show that these extracellular vesicles make it possible to establish a diagnosis of liver and pancreatic cancers to almost 100%. With this new method of detection, patients could be treated much more quickly and thus increase their chances of survival. Many scientists working in the field of oncology are currently studying the role of an organelle a small-specialized structure contained in the cytoplasm called extracellular vesicles (EV).

These vesicles are physiologically involved in the transmission of numerous biological signals between cells and actively participate in the regulation of various biological processes. While attention is generally focused on the pathological potential of these organelles, researchers from the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine have focused on another question: is it possible that these organelles mark the presence of tumor cells in bile?

Jean-Louis Frossard, a gastroenterologist at the Department of Internal Medicine specializing in the Faculty of Medicine, explained his approach: To answer this question, we studied the number, morphology and size of extracellular vesicles in the bile of patients with cancer liver and pancreas, and then we compared these data with markers usually used to diagnose these particular forms of cancer.

Clear results

Genetic researchers studied VE concentrations in the bile of 50 patients: 25 with cancer 20 with pancreatic cancer and 5 with, bile duct cancer and 25 with non-malignant pathologies 15 cases of chronic pancreatitis and 10 cases of gallstones. Annarita Farina, co-author of the study, said:  The differences between controls and cases of cancers were so pronounced that we were surprised ourselves, with almost 100% of the correspondence between the high rate of VE and cancer cases, we did not expect results so clear.

The concentrations of EV in the bile were significantly higher in the tumor samples. On the other hand, If EVs tend to contain more proteins in malignancies; these differences are statistically less significant. Measuring EV during an endoscopy takes only a few minutes and could become routine when suspected of pancreatic cancer, if our diagnostic method is confirmed beforehand on more Patients says Jean-Louis Brossard. Nevertheless, this technique seems very promising in the face of a constantly increasing form of cancer and a prognosis that is still too often unfavorable.

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The high mortality rate of people with certain digestive cancers is partly due to the difficulty in diagnosing the early stages of these diseases. Treatments are thus implemented late, which reduces their effectiveness while the disease has had time to evolve unfavorably and metastasize to spread. Today, researchers at...