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12:00 AM
Jun 01, 2009
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Asuragen: Cutting pancreatic surgeries

Patients with pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis present with similar symptoms, and are often given ultrasound tests to confirm the presence or absence of lesions. About 15% of these tests are inconclusive, and as a result patients often undergo partial or full pancreatectomies, about 10% of which are unnecessary.

Asuragen Inc. hopes its minimally invasive miRNA diagnostic will change that, reducing the number of highly invasive procedures.

While Asuragen initially will target the 15% of inconclusive cases, CEO Matt Winkler hopes to eventually expand the test to all patients presenting with symptoms, who comprise a market of more than 300,000 patients per year.

Asuragen has identified miRNAs in fine-needle aspirates from pancreatic tissue that are specific to pancreatic cancer, thus distinguishing between malignant and benign lesions.

miRNAs are endogenous 23-nucleotide single-stranded RNAs that control gene expression post-transcriptionally by binding to specific sequences in the untranslated regions of target mRNA molecules.

In the October 2008 Clinical Chemistry,...

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