Crain's Cleveland Business Notables in Health Care
From left, Sanford Markowitz, Amitabh Chak, Joseph Willis.
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Esophageal cancers, which are highly lethal and arise from a precursor lesion of Barrett’s esophagus (BE), have increased more than five-fold in recent years. However, finding BE in patients early could help physicians intervene in the progression of the cancers.
A CWRU team — Drs. Sanford Markowitz, Amitabh Chak and Joseph Willis — is behind a new easily performed, minimally invasive and accurate biomarker test that could change outcomes for patients around the world. The innovation is both a device and a DNA test — EsoCheck and EsoGuard — that identifies BE.
“With the team’s new invention, patients can be reliably tested for BE without an invasive endoscopy,” said Stan Gerson, interim dean of the CWRU School of Medicine, in the nomination. “A clever pill-based balloon to retrieve a sample in a few minutes, coupled with advanced genetic analysis, introduces a new preventive diagnostic method to assist in assuring patients of their cancer risk and direct them to appropriate early treatment.”
Markowitz, who leads the team, is Ingalls professor of cancer genetics and medicine at the School of Medicine and an oncologist at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. Chak is a professor of medicine at the CWRU, a gastroenterologist and the Brenda and Marshall Brown Master Clinician in Innovation and Discovery at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center’s Digestive Health Institute. Willis is professor of pathology at the School of Medicine, a gastrointestinal pathologist and pathology vice-chair for Translational Research at University Hospitals’ Diagnostic Institute.
“The team’s openness to outside advice — from the National Cancer Institute to School of Medicine programs like Case-Coulter to their new commercial partners at LUCID — shows their dedication to solving the problems with the best advice, as quickly as possible,” Gerson said.