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GWU Researchers Awarded $500K by NCI to Develop Biomarkers for Bile Duct Cancer

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences have been awarded a five-year, $500,000 National Cancer Institute grant to develop proteomic biomarkers for Opisthorchis-induced bile duct cancer, the school announced today.

Under the grant, Jeffrey Bethony and Paul Brindley, respectively associate professor and professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will conduct quantitative proteomics research to scan tumor tissues and matched plasma from bile duct cancer patients in search of biomarkers proximal to the disease site.

Candidate biomarkers will be verified in the plasma of healthy individuals at risk of bile duct cancer from infection by the liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, a food-borne parasite that infects more than 40 million people, primarily in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. The healthy patients are participants in the Khon Kaen Cholangiocarcinoma Cohort study.

Brindley and Bethony established the cohort as part of an International Collaboration in Infectious Disease Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Currently more than 1,000 individuals identified to be at high risk of developing liver fluke-induced bile duct cancer are being followed by the cohort.

O. viverrini is considered one of the most important food-borne trematodes because of its strong association with bile duct fibrosis and bile duct cancer, GWU's School of Medicine and Health Sciences said, adding that the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer categorizes the parasite as a Group 1 carcinogen, a definitive cause of cancer.

"Choloangiocarcinoma is associated with a late presentation, and therefore poses great challenges for diagnosis and has a high mortality rate," Brindley said in a statement. "These features highlight the need for biomarkers that can be measured early and in accessible samples, such as plasma."

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