Colorectal Cancer Alliance awards two innovative research projects to find critical answers in colorectal cancer

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance today announced $500,000 in total funding for two colorectal cancer (CRC) studies through its Chris4Life Research Program.

Image of Vinay Varadan.

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Vinay Varadan, PhD, will investigate how multifactorial mechanisms involved in colon tumor progression in African Americans contribute to higher colon cancer burdens in that population. African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States.

Varadan will discover and validate whether these colorectal cancer disparities are influenced, in-part, by biologic factors within patient tumors. The study is designed to decode the role of tumor biology as well as socio-demographic factors that jointly contribute to racial disparities in colorectal cancer outcomes. Overall, the study will inform the development of new biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.

"African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with and to die as a result of colon cancer than any other ethnic group in the United States. These significant racial disparities are likely due to a confluence of socio-demographic and biologic mechanisms that are decipherable only through the use of integrative multi-scale mathematical models,” said Varadan, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine who leads a Translational Systems Biology Laboratory at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "This timely grant from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance will enable us to couple our unique systems biology approaches with large-scale primary tumor molecular profiles and preclinical models in order to develop interventional strategies that can improve health equity in this disease.”

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, also received funding to investigate how the microbiome is different in CRC patients diagnosed with CRC at an age younger than 50 years old, compared to older patients and healthy individuals, and then examine whether those differences lead to worse tumor growth and weakened immunity against cancer, particularly among the youngest patients in their 20s and 30s.

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