MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Drawing on their clinical and scientific experience, researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a new strategy for attacking esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Their study found that inhibiting one of the key cellular signaling pathways might result in a better response to chemotherapy, with a potential improvement in patient outcomes.
"Our clinicians work closely with our researchers in taking a bedside-to-bench-to-bedside approach to treating EAC patients at Sylvester," said Alan S. Livingstone, M.D., professor and Chairman of the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and study co-author. "This research lays the foundation for clinical trials using these experimental therapeutics at Sylvester and has the potential to impact clinical care of EAC patients in the near term.”
Currently, EAC treatments typically involve chemotherapy followed by surgery and removal of the esophagus. "While many patients have partial responses, only about 15 percent of patients respond completely to the chemotherapy, and this greatly improves their five-year survival rates,” said senior author and study leader Anthony J. Capobianco, Ph.D., professor of surgery and Director of the Molecular Oncology Research Program in the Division of Surgical Oncology. “Our team of surgeons and scientists takes a collaborative approach in seeking to determine why cancer cells are resistant to treatment in the vast majority of patients with EAC.”
The Miller School study focused on the role of the Notch signaling pathway, which can "turn on" gene regulation mechanisms that affect cellular development. Activating that pathway in cancer patients can delay the cell maturation process, leading to an overabundance of cancer stem-like cells that are relatively unaffected by chemotherapy and are thought to contribute to metastatic disease.
"Our study clearly shows that Notch activity provides the tumor with protection against chemotherapy," said Capobianco. "Therefore, inhibiting or blocking the Notch signaling pathway should improve the effectiveness of EAC treatment and thereby ease the burden and improve outcomes for our patients."
The study, "Notch Signaling Drives Stemness and Tumorigenicity of Esophageal Adenocarcinoma" was published online in the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)'s prestigious journal, Cancer Research.
To read more about the study, click here.