A “Silent Disease” is Striking Vietnam Veterans

The Vietnam War ended more than 40 years ago.  But for those who once served overseas, there is a newly emerging health problem.

Between 1964-1973, more than 2.7 million young Americans served in Vietnam.  This represents almost 10 percent of their generation.  (US War Dogs)

While overseas, many soldiers ate raw or undercooked fish.  As a result, they may have ingested small parasitic worms called liver flukes (fasciola).  The bad news is that liver flukes can live for decades in your intestines and liver with absolutely no symptoms.

The worse news is that the parasites are linked with bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma).  This cancer is called a “silent disease” because the signs and symptoms can go unnoticed until the cancer is in an advanced stage.  (Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation)

Last year, the Associated Press reported that 700 veterans with bile duct cancer have been seen by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the past 15 years.  This spring, the VA commissioned a pilot study.  Out of 50 blood samples submitted, more than 20 percent came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies.

Research is being done to find ways to detect this cancer sooner.

An international team of scientists performed the first comprehensive study that used microarrays and microRNA expression to detect intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC).  They found that each different grade and subtype of ICC displayed a distinct miRNA profile.  Furthermore, when tumor samples were compared to adjacent non-tumor tissue, similar miRNA dysregulation profiles were observed.

“These profiles could be used to enhance the early detection and improve the personalized treatment for ICC,” the study concludes.

The researchers used several Agilent genomics solutions in their work.  An Agilent Bioanalyzer System, Nano Kit and Small RNA kit determined RNA concentration, purity and integrity.  An Agilent human miRNA microarray profiled microRNA expression.  Agilent MiRNA labeling and hybridization kits hybridized the samples.  Agilent GeneSpring and Feature Extraction software digitized the data.

For Research Use Only.  Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

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