Pitt researchers say they’ve  developed a  genetic test for pancreatic cancer.The team says the test is highly sensitive at determining which pancreatic cysts are most likely linked to one of the most aggressive types of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers say it correctly identified every patient in the study  with a type of cyst that’s  a common precursor to pancreatic cancer. 

Lead author Aatur D. Singhi, M.D., Ph.D., a surgical pathologist in the UPMC Division of Anatomic Pathology said, “This rapid, sensitive test will be useful in guiding physicians on which patients would most benefit from surgery.”

According to researchers,”The study, funded in part by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and The National Pancreas Foundation, was the first to evaluate a test that employed a more sensitive genetic sequencing method called next-generation sequencing and the first to be performed in a certified and accredited clinical laboratory as opposed to a research setting. 

“This was important to us,” said Singhi. “If PancreaSeq is going to be used to make clinical decisions, then it needed to be evaluated in a clinical setting in real time, with all the pressures that go with a clinical diagnosis.”

The test is  available to patients  and ordered through UPMC.

The study, a joint effort involving scientists at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was reported in Gut, the journal of the British Society of Gastroenterology.