(HealthDay News) — The DNA of two genes is frequently altered in patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer, modifications that can be accurately detected in cancer cells and serum, according to a study published online Oct. 2 in Clinical Cancer Research.

Joo Mi Yi, Ph.D., from the Dongnam Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences in Busan, South Korea, and colleagues performed a genome-wide pharmacologic transcriptome analysis to identify cancer-specific alterations in DNA methylation in pancreatic cancers.

The researchers found that the BNC1 and ADAMTS1 genes were frequently methylated in 143 pancreatic cancers, with a frequency up to 100% for pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia and 97 percent for stage I invasive cancers. These alterations could also be detected in serum from 42 patients with pancreatic cancer using nanoparticle-enabled methylation-on-beads technology. Using both markers, the overall sensitivity was 81% and overall specificity was 85% for serum testing.

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“Promoter DNA methylation of BNC1 and ADAMTS1 are potential biomarkers to detect early-stage pancreatic cancers,” Yi and colleagues conclude.