The collaborative sites are expected to provide clinical expertise and samples to evaluate the clinical utility of a microRNA (miRNA) test, based on FNA biopsies, to distinguish pancreatic adenocarcinoma from chronic pancreatitis and other non-cancerous conditions. These studies are expected to expand the company’s current pancreatic cancer test program.

Asuragen introduced the miRNA-based diagnostic test in 2008, which aids in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in formalin-fixed specimens. The FNA-based pancreatic cancer test is expected to be made available in Asuragen’s CLIA laboratory in the second half of 2010.

David Whitcomb, chief of the division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said: “We are happy to be working with Asuragen on the development of tests to improve the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

“More accurate diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma using FNA samples will improve the clinical decisions in cases of suspected pancreatic cancer and help improve the management of patients for which conventional cytopathology is indeterminate.”

Darwin Conwell, associate professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: “The recent data using miRNA in pancreas cancer is promising. We are pleased to participate in this multi-center study to enhance the diagnosis of pancreas cancer using recent advances in molecular biology. It is our hope that this study will clarify the diagnosis and help direct treatment strategies of our patients.”

Matt Winkler, chief executive officer and chief science officer of Asuragen, said: “We are pleased to have research partnerships with many of the key scientific and clinical thought leaders in the field of pancreatic cancer and look forward to the participation of additional sites. These clinical alliances place Asuragen at the cutting edge of pancreatic cancer molecular diagnostics and support the company’s goal to be a leader in the discovery and development of diagnostic products to improve the lives of cancer patients.”