Pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate, which is generally related to the initial diagnosis coming at late stage disease combined with a lack of effective treatment options. Novel agents that selectively detect pancreatic cancer have potential for use in the molecular imaging of cancer, allowing for non-invasive determination of tumor therapeutic response and molecular characterization of the disease. Such agents may also be used for the targeted delivery of therapy to tumor cells while decreasing systemic effects. Using complementary assays of mRNA expression profiling to determine elevated expression in pancreatic cancer tissues relative to normal pancreas tissues, and validation of protein expression by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarray, we have identified cell-surface targets with potential for imaging and therapeutic agent development. Expression profiles of 2177 cell-surface genes for 28 pancreatic tumor specimens and 4 normal pancreas tissue samples were evaluated. Expression in normal tissues was evaluated using array data from 103 samples representing 28 organ sites as well as mining published data. One-hundred seventy unique targets were highly expressed in 2 or more of the pancreatic tumor specimens and were not expressed in the normal pancreas samples. Two targets (TLR2 and ABCC3) were further validated for protein expression by tissue microarray (TMA) based immunohistochemistry. These validated targets have potential for the development of diagnostic imaging and therapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer.
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