Colon cancer study uses 'gene chip' technology

May 13, 2001

CLEVELAND -- Why does colon cancer recur after surgery for some people, but not for others? Researchers at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland will seek the answer in a study using DNA microarray or "gene chip" technology.

The study -- "Gene Expression Signature of Colon Cancers that Metastasize" -- has the support of a $6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a four-and-a-half year period.

Researchers will use this new technology to analyze human tissue for changes in the expression of up to 40,000 different genes in colon cancers that were cured by surgery. Researchers then compare their results with cancers that spread after surgery and caused death.

"The hope of this project is to find the key genes that are responsible for causing colon cancers to spread and metastasize, and that could be targets for new anticolon cancer drugs," said Sanford Markowitz, the study's principal investigator.

"The aim is to benefit our patients with colon cancer, and to advance our basic understanding of the problem of cancer metastases," he said. "This project represents the fruits of being able to apply cutting edge cancer genetics to a major human disease, and of joining unique opportunities created by the collaboration of a world class medical school and world class hospital."
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Markowitz is an associate investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at CWRU.

Key collaborators include Joseph Willis, CWRU assistant professor in the UHC Department of Pathology; and Sunil Rao, assistant professor, and Sylvan Green, professor, both in CWRU's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Support for this project also comes through developmental funds from the Ohio Board of Regents and developmental funds from the Ireland Cancer Center.

Case Western Reserve University

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