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Just funded this month, the new DF/HCC Gastrointestinal Cancers SPORE will lead to greater cohesion in the Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program, spark new RO1, PO1, and DOD grants, foster innovative ideas in GI cancer research, and advance the careers of junior investigators. The DF/HCC Gastrointestinal Cancers SPORE will be led Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH (DFCI), who serves as Principal Investigator, and Ronald DePinho, MD (DFCI) and Monica Bertagnolli, MD (BWH), who serve as co-Principal Investigators.  There are five projects in the  GI SPORE:

  • The first project, Improved Staging of Pancreatic Cancer, led by Ralph Weissleder, MD, PhD (MGH), and Andrew Warshaw, MD (MGH), is a clinical study designed to determine whether magnetic resonance imaging with lymphotropic superparamagneticnanoparticals (LN-MRI) will accurately predict the presences of lymph node metastases in patients with pancreatic cancer. In addition to establishing new criteria for disease progression and survival, the data collected in these studies will provide valuable information necessary to develop new generations of novel diagnostics and potentially therapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer treatment.

  • Project two, Molecular Fluorescent Imaging for the Early Detection of Colorectal Neoplasia, led by Raju Kucherlapati, PhD (HMS), Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD (MGH), Daniel Chung, MD (MGH), and Andrew Chan, MD, MPH (MGH), focuses on clinically translating novel imaging agents and devices into technologies that will permit the early detection and in situ characterization of early neoplastic colonic lesions. The culmination of this effort will be a pilot clinical trial in which the feasibility of diagnostic performance of this novel technology will be evaluated in patients with sporadic invasive CRC, patients with polyposis syndromes, and patients with dysplasia in the setting of UC.
  • Project three, Defining Optimal Doses of Vitamin D for Chemoprevention in Blacks, led by Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD (HMS), Karen Emmons, PhD (DFCI), Gary Bennet, PhD (DFCI), and Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, aims to define the dose of vitamin D supplementation needed to achieve a presumed protective level of plasma 25(OH)D in Blacks. Results of this trial will help direct future randomized trials of vitamin D in the prevention of colorectal neoplasia and other cancers of the digestive system.
  • Project four, The Role of PI3-Kinase signaling pathway in defining sensitivity and resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in colorectal cancer, led by Lewis Cantley, PhD (BIDMC), Jeffrey Engelman, MD, PhD (MGH), Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH (DFCI), and David Ryan, MD (MGH), will study the PI3K signaling pathway in colorectal cancers with the goal of identifying markers that will predict sensitivity to cetuximab. Our specific aims include: (1) Identifying the mechanisms for activating the PI3K/AKT pathway in colorectal cancers; (2) Determining the differences in PI3K regulation between cetuximab sensitive and resistant colorectal cancers in xenograft tumor models; and (3) Determining if the information discovered in the first two aims to identify markers will predict which colorectal cancers will respond to cetuximab.
  • Project five, Targeted Therapy Resistance Mechanisms in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), led by Jonathan Fletcher, MD (BWH), and George Demetri, MD (DFCI), seeks to characterize imatinib/sunitinib resistance mechanisms in GISTs with the ultimate goal of using this knowledge to design more effective clinical strategies. The project will enable the development of biomarkers, assays and cell lines to enable preclinical validation of novel therapeutic strategies to circumvent resistance, and culminate with a phase I/II clinical trial of the HSP90 inhibitor, IPI-504, combined with imatinib, in patients showing progression of metastatic GIST on imatinib or sunitinib.

Learn more
about the GI SPORE's projects and cores.