Esophageal Cancer Research

Esophageal Cancer Research

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In January 2014, TargetCancer provided a $50,000 grant to fund a unique collaboration between Adam Bass, MD, and Michael Goldberg, Ph.D., at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This grant unites these two experts in cancer genomics and cancer immunology for the first time in an effort to identify new drug targets, as well potential combination genetic and immunotherapeutic drug therapies for esophageal cancer.

This study leverages existing resources, including a large collection of primary esophageal adenocarcinoma patient samples, many of which have already been genomically characterized through prior work funded in part by TargetCancer. In addition, these studies will build off of large-scale genomic profiling studies already being initiated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Efficient utilization of these existing resources allows Drs. Bass and Goldberg to realize the maximum impact from TargetCancer’s funding.

In the two years prior to this new collaboration, TargetCancer had provided $45,000 of direct funding in support of Dr. Bass’ genomic study of esophageal cancer- the largest such study ever attempted. The overarching goal of Dr. Bass' laboratory is to build off of the discovery of the key genes that are driving the growth and survival of these tumors in order to develop new therapeutic strategies.

In March 2013, Dr. Bass' research was published in Nature Genetics. This groundbreaking paper identified the molecular signature of esophageal cancer for the first time. According to Dr. Bass, this discovery "presents us with a slate of known genetic abnormalities that can someday be used to diagnose the disease at an early stage, classify tumors by the particular mutations within esophageal adenocarcinoma cells, and ultimately develop treatment geared to precisely those mutations." TargetCancer is proud to have contributed to have contributed to the research that made this extraordinarily important paper possible. You can read more about the paper here.

In Dr. Bass’ own words:

“Esophageal adenocarcinoma is an extremely deadly form of cancer whose incidence has been rising dramatically over the past several decades. Esophageal adenocarcinoma also carries a poor prognosis secondary to its propensity to spread (or metastasize) early in its development and also secondary to our inadequate treatments to treat cancer once it has spread. A key impediment to the development of better therapies for this cancer is our relatively poor understanding of the underlying biology of these tumors. One way for us to better understand esophageal adenocarcinoma and build a foundation for new therapies is by identifying the specific genetic mutations (or changes in the DNA of the tumor) that are essential for the formation and survival of these cancers.

With this donation from TargetCancer, our research laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute can continue our ongoing efforts to characterize the genomic alterations underlying the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma. Our laboratory is working together with the Broad Institute to study the genome of esophageal adenocarcinoma. Through these efforts we have identified new genes that may play critical roles in these tumors. Building off of these insights from the cancer genome, we are bringing new findings into the laboratory where we will be able to perform focused study on new candidate genes that may be playing critical roles in these tumors. These genomic and laboratory studies will thus provide a foundation for defining new therapeutic targets that can enable the development of improved therapies for patients with these cancers. We are grateful for this support from TargetCancer that is allowing us to work towards greatly needed progress for this deadly and understudied cancer.”