Gabby Wernick
Gabby Wernick
Helios Scholar
School: Brandeis University
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Mentor: Ruben Munoz and Yesenia Barrera Millian
PI: Haiyong Han, PhD 

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Identification of exosomal miRNAs as novel biomarkers for early detection of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of death by cancer and is most often detected at a late stage, making it difficult to treat and nearly impossible to cure via surgical resection. The current CA19-9 blood test diagnosing pancreatic cancer has low (<90%) specificity and sensitivity, and ongoing research suggests that exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) can be used as potential biomarkers for pancreatic cancer. Using serum samples from 30 patients, we have identified a panel of five exosomal miRNAs via RNA sequencing and subsequent bioinformatic analysis. In this study we sought to validate the expression of these miRNAs in patients with normal pancreas, pancreatic cancer, and IPMN, using RT-qPCR. The relative expression of each miRNA was calculated and compared for each diagnosis, which provides more information about how to increase the effectiveness of biomarker-based blood tests used for early detection and suggests that this miRNA panel may be further optimized for early detection of pancreatic cancer.