|[February 12, 2013]
Vanderbilt, GE Team to Achieve Deeper Understanding of Colon Cancer
NISKAYUNA, N.Y. --(Business Wire)--
Vanderbilt University has partnered with GE Global Research, the
technology development arm for the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE),
to better define - at the cellular level - how colon tumors form and
Pictured is an image of early stage colon cancer using GE's cancer mapping technology which can display dozens of disease markers in a single tissue sample. With a more detailed picture, researchers from Vanderbilt University are hoping to make new discoveries about how colon cancer tumors form and develop. (Photo: Business Wire)
The research, supported by a five-year, $3.75 million grant from the
Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will
test GE's revolutionary cancer mapping technology, an automated platform
that can probe and analyze up to 60 different disease markers, including
proteins and messenger RNAs, in a single tissue sample. The ability to
study dozens of markers at one time provides a more complete picture of
what's happening with the cancer. Currently, a diagnosis of cancer and
the decision of which therapy to prescribe are based on the histology of
the tumor and, in some cases, the expression of just one or two disease
markers inside a patient's tumor.
The award is part of a new NIH-funded Single Cell Analysis Program that
aims to "understand what makes individual cells unique and to pave the
way for medical treatments that are based on disease mechanisms at the
The GE-Vanderbilt project, led by GE scientists Michael Gerdes, Ph.D.
and Kashan Shaikh, Ph.D., and by Robert Coffey, M.D., Ingram Professor
of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt, will explore how intestinal stem cells
of the colon contribute to tumor formation and progression, and the
signaling pathways associated with the disease.
"With GE's cancer mapping technology, we're enabling cancer to be viewed
in ways it couldn't previously be seen such as with the activation of
different signaling pathways in specific cells," said Gerdes, lead
scientist at GE Global Researc. "With unprecedented views, we hope will
come unprecedented insights that tell us more about how cancer forms,
how it progresses, and most importantly, how to defeat it."
GE scientists have developed novel technology that allows a single
tissue section from a sample that is removed during surgery, to be
imaged for biosignatures including expression of dozens of proteins and
nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) without destroying the integrity of the
"As we have learned, no two patient's cancer is exactly the same. With
colon cancer, some patients exhibit a more aggressive form of the
disease compared to other patients," said John Burczak, Advanced
Technology Leader in Molecular Imaging at GE Global Research. "We want
to understand these subtleties, so that one day therapies can even be
specifically tailored for each patient."
Gerdes added that the goal is to identify "the mechanisms that drive the
aggressive nature of the cancer, and the role that cancer stem cells
play in therapeutic resistance."
A primary issue in cancer diagnosis today is the limited amount of
molecular information that is available about a particular cancer. With
little information, it's difficult to determine more specific
characteristics of cancer that could reveal how fast or slow it may be
growing. New breakthroughs in molecular diagnostics are starting to
change this paradigm.
GE's cancer mapping technology will be tested with investigators at
Vanderbilt from the Epithelial Biology Center that Professor Coffey
The Coffey lab recently reported the discovery of a new population of
relatively quiescent (inactive) intestinal stem cells. These cells
express a protein called Lrig1 that acts as a tumor suppressor. This
discovery has "given us an entrée to develop some very robust models of
colon cancer," Coffey said.
The GE-Vanderbilt work is funded by NIH grant 1R01CA174377-01. Coffey's
research is also supported by the National Cancer Institute
(2P50CA095103 - Molecular Imaging and Targeted Therapeutics of Stem
Cell-Derived Colon Cancer).
About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's
businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what's possible, drive
growth for our businesses, and find answers to some of the world's
We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; San
Ramon, California; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany;
and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.ge.com/research.
Connect with our technologists at http://edisonsdesk.com
About Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a major referral center for the
Southeast and nation. Through Vanderbilt University Hospital, the Monroe
Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and other clinical
facilities, it provides several regional services, among them a Level 1
Trauma Center, a comprehensive Regional Burn Center and a Level 4
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. VUMC encompasses the highly ranked
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School
of Nursing and Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences. Its
cutting-edge research enterprise is nationally known for translating
scientific discoveries into advances in patient care. For more
information, see www.mc.vanderbilt.edu.
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