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Finding clues in unexpected places: detection of pancreatic cancer through the faecal microbiome
  1. Rachel Newsome1,
  2. Christian Jobin1,2
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  2. 2 Department of Infectious Diseases & Immunology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christian Jobin, Department of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases & Immunology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA; Christian.Jobin{at}

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Pancreatic cancer is an intractable form of cancer that ranks as the 12th most common cancer worldwide (2.7%) but alarmingly is predicted to increase in the next two decades.1 Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer with a low survival prognosis (~5%). The pancreas is located next to major blood vessels which facilitates nutrient acquisition and spreading, meaning PDAC can progress quickly, and symptoms are often associated with other risk factors and comorbidities in these patients, including chronic pancreatitis (CP) and diabetes.2 Clearly, early detection is an essential component of improving survival, however, limited progress has been made in PDAC early diagnosis. Current detection methods include imaging, biopsy and sampling of urine and serum of patients to monitor progression. There is an urgent need to identify novel and preferentially non-invasive early markers of pancreatic cancer. The finding that microbiota is associated with various forms of cancer including pancreatic cancer has ignited interest among the scientific community in using microbiota for predictive, diagnostic and prognostic purposes.3 4

In Gut, Kartal, Schmidt and Molina-Montes sought to identify microbial predictive signatures of PDAC using oral and intestinal microbiota.5 The authors sampled saliva and faeces as well as pancreatic normal and tumour tissue from patients with PDAC and CP, along with matched same-hospital inpatient controls (figure 1). Microbial composition was assessed in each sample type via whole-genome shotgun metagenomics and 16S rRNA sequencing. The authors collected numerous metadata for these …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed to review of the literature and the writing of the article.

  • Funding This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants R01DK073338 and from the University of Florida, Department of Medicine Gatorade Fund to CJ. RN was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number T32CA257923.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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