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U.S., China Universities to Collaborate on Cancer Biomarkers

Leland Hartwell (Arizona State Univ.)

Leland Hartwell (Arizona State Univ.)

Arizona State University in Tempe and Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) in Guangzhou, China have agreed to collaborate on research developing early and predictive diagnostics for colorectal cancer. The agreement involves the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health at ASU and the SYSU Gastrointestinal Institute of the Sixth Affiliated Hospital in Guangzhou.

Research scientists at the two universities will collaborate on the discovery, development and validation of predictive molecular signatures, called biomarkers, for screening high-risk populations to detect colon cancer at an early stage. Biomarkers can also indicate effective treatment strategies for patients.

“Developing these advances to the stage where they are useful in the clinic requires a systematic, dedicated, and long-term collaboration between the most advanced clinical research sites and state-of-the-art technology centers,” says Leland Hartwell (pictured left), chief scientist at the Center for Sustainable Health. “We are optimistic that this collaboration will help advance the quality of colorectal cancer care worldwide.”

The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates more than 101,000 cases of colon cancer will be reported in the U.S. in 2011, along with nearly 40,000 cases of rectal cancer. More than 49,000 deaths from these cancers are expected in 2011.

Currently methods of screening for colorectal cancer involve fecal blood testing, which is not always effective and endoscopic methods which are often expensive. No predictive diagnostic technologies are yet available for a simple blood or stool test to identify colon cancer sensitively and specifically before symptoms appear.

The collaboration with SYSU is the second international connection in the Center for Sustainable Health’s Global Biosignatures Network. The center had earlier established a relationship with Chang Gung University in Taiwan to collaborate on biomarker discovery and validation for oral and colorectal cancer.

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