Pure pancreatic acinar cell carcinomas (PACC) are rare malignancies with no established treatment. PACC demonstrates significant genetic intertumoral heterogeneity with multiple pathways involved, suggesting using targeted cancer therapeutics to treat this disease. We aggregated one of the largest datasets of pure PACC to examine the genomic variability and explore patient-specific therapeutic targets.

Experimental Design:

PACC specimens (n = 51) underwent next-generation sequencing of DNA (n = 29) or whole exome (n = 22) and RNA (whole transcriptome, n = 29) at a commercial laboratory. We performed comparative analyses of a genomic cohort of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC; n = 4,205). In parallel, we conducted a retrospective review of patients with PACC treated at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).


The real-world dataset included samples from 51 patients with PACC. We found key molecular differences between pure PACC and PDAC, highlighting the unique characteristics of pure PACC. Major differences in PACC include lower MAPK signaling and less stromal cell abundance compared with PDAC. Pure PACC showed genomic loss-of-heterozygosity to largely coincide with mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. Of the 7 patients treated at HCI, one had a tumor that harbored a BRAF-V600E mutation. Leveraging precision oncology, this patient is being treated with encorafenib plus binimetinib, achieving an exceptionally durable and ongoing complete response of more than 3 years.


There are major differences between PACC and PDAC, including downregulation of the MAPK signaling pathway, and less stromal cell abundance. In addition, genomic characterization of pure PACC revealed frequent targetable alterations, which can guide patient treatment.

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