Nav: Home

UNC researcher to help lead new esophageal cancer network

October 07, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher is one of five co-principal investigators in a new collaborative network created to study genetic determinants of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Nicholas J. Shaheen, MD, MPH, professor in the UNC School of Medicine, adjunct professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the UNC Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing, will co-direct these Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNet) projects. Shaheen is also a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The BETRNet is funded by a $5.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The other co-principal investigators of this BETRNet consortium are Dr. Amitabh Chak, professor of medicine at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine, Dr. Sanford Markowitz, Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at the CWRU School of Medicine, Dr. Nathan A. Berger, Hanna-Payne Professor of Experimental Medicine at CWRU, Dr. Robert Elston, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at CWRU, and Dr. William Grady, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

"Collaborations such as these between basic and translational scientists and clinical researchers will be essential to unravel the complex interplay between environmental and genetic influences on cancer development," said Shaheen.

Roy C. Orlando, MD, Mary Kay & Eugene Bozymski and Linda & William Heizer distinguished professor of gastroenterology and adjunct professor of cell and molecular physiology at UNC, is also a member of the BETRNet faculty.

Although the rate of many common cancers has declined in recent years, the rate of esophageal cancer has increased greater than six-fold over the past three decades. The prognosis for this cancer remains poor, accounting for over 1 in 50 adult male cancer-related deaths. Though Barrett's esophagus, a precursor of esophageal cancer, can be easily recognized at endoscopy, current medical strategies of performing endoscopy based on the close association of Barrett's with chronic heartburn in adults are very inadequate. Nearly 40 percent of patients who develop esophageal cancer have no preceding symptoms of heartburn, and most people with heartburn never have endoscopy. Less than 5 percent of cancers are diagnosed at an early stage in patients whose Barrett's was recognized prior to cancer diagnosis.

The BETRNet projects include discovery of genes that cause Barrett's esophagus to run in certain families, genes that become targets of DNA methylation in Barrett's and in esophageal cancers, and genes that are either turned on or turned off in Barrett's esophagus and in esophageal cancers. The overall aims of the network are to develop new methods of identifying individuals at risk for Barrett's esophagus, early detection of Barrett's and esophageal cancers, and monitoring Barrett's esophagus to recognize when it is likely to progress to cancer.
-end-


University of North Carolina Health Care

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...