Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis

Biomarker Development Projects

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Blood-Based Detection of Colorectal Cancer and Colon Precancers

Goal: To identify protein biomarkers that increase in plasma as colorectal precancers or cancers develop.

Anticipated clinical impact: Many people avoid colonoscopy screening, which can detect early stage colorectal cancer. This blood test would detect early stage colorectal cancers. Individuals with a positive test would be referred for followup colonoscopy.

Project: The strategy is to characterize proteotypes of normal colon tissue, colon precancers and colorectal cancers and then to identify those proteins that distinguish precancers and cancers. These candidates will be further evaluated with targeted analyses in plasma specimens collected from individuals at the time of their colonoscopy screening. Measurements of candidate biomarkers will be compared with findings of the colonoscopy to determine which biomarkers best detect disease.

Collaborating investigators: Drs. Beauchamp, Coffey, Eskind, Granda, Herline, Liebler, Merchant, Ness, Parikh, Shrubsole, Shyr, Slebos, Washington, Zhang and Zheng.


Identification of High-Risk Stage II Colorectal Cancers

Goal: To identify protein markers in resected stage II colon cancers that predict high risk of recurrence following surgery.

Anticipated clinical impact: Whereas most stage II colorectal cancers are cured by surgery, some patients relapse within 5 years. Adjuvant chemotherapy will benefit only those patients whose cancers will relapse, but there is no reliable diagnostic to identify these patients. This test would be performed on stage II cancers immediately following resection. A positive test for high-risk cancer would provide the physician important information for making treatment decisions.

Project: The strategy is to analyze archived tissue specimens from Stage II tumors collected 5-10 years ago and where medical records indicate which patients had recurrent cancers. Recent advances in technology for proteomic analysis of archived (formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded) tissue specimens enables identification of biomarker candidates. Proteins that distinguish recurring (high risk) versus non-recurring (low risk) tumors will be evaluated in further clinical trials.

Collaborating investigators: Drs. Beauchamp, Coffey, Merchant, Liebler, Parikh, Slebos, and Washington.

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