New efforts within Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology are aiming to profile the DNA (or genome) of patients’ tumors. With these studies we are looking for specific DNA changes (mutations), as well as for other molecular changes that have implications for the potential of the tumor to be effectively treated by distinct therapies. We are committed to increasingly use our new capacity for genomic/molecular profiling of our patients’ tumors to improve cancer care and allow us to provide optimal therapies based upon the features of each patient’s cancer.
In some cases these genomic or molecular tests are already part of the “standard of care” that all patients receive. For most of our patients, however, genomic testing that we are now offering is part of new research initiatives at DF/BWCC. When testing is performed as part of a research program, the new genomic information that we obtained from the tumor can be used to help guide potential enrollment in clinical trials testing new and emerging targeted therapies.
We are leading a wide range of research into distinct gastrointestinal cancers. Our work is widespread and is comprised in part, of the study of the fundamental biology defining how gastrointestinal cancers form, the pursuit of new molecular genetics to define the key genes that cause these cancers, the testing and development of new therapies for our patients, and the effects of lifestyle upon cancer incidence and survival.
Recent highlights of our research include:
- Leading efforts to characterize the genomes of colorectal, gastric, and esophageal cancers through the Cancer Genome Atlas project of the National Cancer Institute
- Recently identified new critical genes that are underlying the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer
- Identified new genes that are responsible for the formation of neuroendocrine tumors
- Clinical trials leading to the first new drug approved for the care of gastric cancer in many years
- Defined new biomarkers that are critical for guiding the care of patients with colorectal cancer
- New research defining new candidate markers for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
- Finding new candidate targets for pancreatic cancer through basic research based on defining the unique metabolic features of GI tumors
- Leading other clinical trials aimed at developing new and more effective therapies for all of the GI disease types