Gastrointestinal cancers are one of society's largest health burdens. Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide, and colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In addition, the incidence of proximal tumors of the stomach and esophageal Barrett's adenocarcinoma are rising quickly in the U.S. Cancers that arise from the gastrointestinal tract or associated organs such as the esophagus, pancreas, and liver are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and are thus incurable. With this in mind, the primary focus of our research group is to identify genetic biomarkers for the development of gastrointestinal tumors. These gene targets can lead to the development of better diagnostic tools and novel cancer therapies based on the individual genetic characteristics of tumors.
Microsatellite instable cases
In defining mechanisms of gastrointestinal tumorigenesis we investigate the role of inflammation, H. pylori infection, environmental, and genetic factors. We employ established and state-of-the-art molecular biologic, molecular genetic, and biochemical techniques including PCR, DNA cloning and manipulations, nucleotide sequencing, electrophoresis, radioisotope assays, hybridizations, tissue culture experiments, microbiological experiments, and tissue microdissection. We analyze tumor and normal specimens at the genetic, transcript, and protein expression level. We are also developing new methodologies to examine normal and tumor cell biology to identify critical changes leading to transformation of these cells. We have recently identified a number of novel targets for gastrointestinal cancers that are being explored at the functional level to evaluate their role in tumorigenesis.
Steven M. Powell, MD