This research laboratory, established in the Gastrointestinal Division of the Department of Pathology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, was created to help fight this deadly disease. The number one goal of this laboratory is to develop a screening test for early pancreatic cancer -- "a PSA test for pancreatic cancer." This laboratory was established thanks in large measure to the national pancreatic cancer organization, PanCAN.
The establishment of a new medical research laboratory is always an exciting venture. It is gratifying to know that the participants of the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Cancer Web chat room helped fund the creation of the lab, and this group -- now known as PanCAN are witnessing the lab's research results into pancreatic cancer. Recently, the lab also received support from the National Pancreas Foundation (see photo).
There are many new challenges. With the limited funding available for pancreatic cancer research, there are few research groups studying pancreatic cancer. Fewer still whose goal is to detect the disease early. Not only do we want to learn more about the disease; we want to help high-risk individuals detect the disease at an early asymptomatic stage, before it is too late.
The laboratory has been taking several approaches towards the goal of early detection. We have also recruited several committed researchers to the lab.
We are studying gene expression patterns of pancreatic cancers using microarray technology. We are also studying DNA methylation patterns looking for genes that are methylated in pancreatic cancer but not in normal cells.
We have put together a profile of genes that are methylated in pancreatic cancer. Some pancreatic cancers methylate a lot of genes; most appear to methylate only a few genes. We are currently directing our efforts to identify additional genes methylated in pancreatic cancer using novel techniques. We are also studying the role of telomerase in pancreatic cancer and its potential as a marker for early detection.
Dr. Michael Goggins is the Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Laboratory. Dr. Goggins is currently an Associate Professro Professor of Pathology, Medicine, and Oncology. He is a Gastroenterologist and molecular biologist. He obtained his medical degree in 1988 from the Trinity College Dublin. He did his Internal Medicine residency and fellowship in Gastroenterology in St. James' hospital, Dublin. He came to Johns Hopkins in 1995 as a research fellow to join Dr. Scott Kern's pancreas cancer research laboratory at Johns Hopkins and opened the early detection laboratory in February of 1999.