Background and rationale: Standardized clinical management of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNETs) is restricted by different aspects of the disease, as its relative rarity, heterogeneous presentation, the limited understanding of tumour biology and the lack of risk stratification systems. While surgical excision remains the primary therapy, most patients are not candidates for resection.
Hypothesis: Prompt, specific and sensitive detection and characterisation of PNETs could lead to early detection, increasing the chance for surgical intervention and improve patients’ survival. Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are considered attractive biomarkers for liquid biopsy as they represent an early step in blood-borne metastasis.
Aims: By building up a tissue bank of genetically characterized tumours, development of patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and organoids, we aim to identify PNET-specific biomarkers urgently needed to design a NExT generation nanotechnology based microfluidic device and integrate the technology of minimally invasive liquid biopsy in the early detection of PNETs.
Methods: Serum and tissue samples will be collected from PNET patients and their clinical and lab records will be recorded. In clinical samples an expression study and genomic analysis will be performed by different molecular techniques whereas, in parallel organdies, PDX and CTC-derived xenografts (CDX) will be established. Based on the acquired data a NExT generation microfluidic device will be developed for PNET-detection and follow-up.
Expected results and potential impact: Better understanding of the etiopathogenetic determinants involved in PNETs formation resulting from the multidisciplinary collaboration within ‘NExT” consortium will hopefully deliver a nanotechnology-based microfluidic (next generation) device that by means of CTCs detection will present a powerful tool for the early detection of PNET tumors and patients follow-up, contributing to better medical treatment.