Patients afflicted with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) face a dismal prognosis, but headway could be made if physicians could identify the disease earlier. A compelling strategy to broaden the use of surveillance for PDAC is to incorporate molecular biomarkers in combination with clinical analysis and imaging tools. This article summarizes the components involved in accomplishing biomarker validation and an analysis of the requirements of molecular biomarkers for disease surveillance. We highlight the significance of consortia for this research and highlight resources and infrastructure of the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). The EDRN brings together the multifaceted expertise and resources needed for biomarker validation, such as study design, clinical care, biospecimen collection and handling, molecular technologies, and biostatistical analysis, and studies coming out of the EDRN have yielded biomarkers that are moving forward in validation. We close the article with an overview of the current investigational biomarkers, an analysis of their performance relative to the established benchmarks, and an outlook on the current needs in the field. The outlook for improving the early detection of PDAC looks promising, and the pace of further research should be quickened through the resources and expertise of the EDRN and other consortia.
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