The University of Toledo | Combating Cancer-永利博彩

Combating Cancer

Offering New Insight into Deadly Gastrointestinal Diseases

While cancer survival rates have vastly improved in recent decades, many gastrointestinal cancers still carry a poor prognosis. UToledo researchers are pursuing novel ideas to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of deadly GI cancers.

UToledo doctors working in a laboratory

Of the 10 most common cancers in the U.S., pancreatic cancer has by far the lowest survival rate. Shi-He Liu, M.D., an assistant professor of cancer biology, is investigating a new drug delivery method to more effectively treat the disease. Supported by a $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, the research aims to use bioengineered cell particles called “smart exosomes” to carry therapeutics directly to the surface of cancer cells.

Shi-He Liu, M.D., standing in a hallway

Liver cancer often isn’t diagnosed until it has advanced and spread, making effective treatment difficult. A meta-analysis led by Mona Hassan, M.D., a board-certified transplant hepatologist and assistant professor of medicine, suggests there may be a more accurate blood-based biomarker for identifying early tumors in those with risk factors such as cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis B infection.

Mona Hassan, M.D., standing in an exam room

A new case report from Matam Vijay-Kumar, Ph.D., a biochemist and professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, that details a patient who developed metastatic colon cancer after prolonged daily consumption of inulin adds to his earlier laboratory work that suggests highly refined fiber supplements may increase the risk for gastrointestinal cancers in some individuals.

Matam Vijay-Kumar, Ph.D., standing in a room with framed documents on the wall

Beng San Yeoh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, was one of three early career scientists nationally to receive a prestigious 2023 American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Award. The three-year, $225,000 grant will support Yeoh’s continued investigation of the interplay of diet and gut bacteria the development of liver cancer.

Beng San Yeoh, Ph.D., working in a laboratory

A UToledo study published in the influential journal Gastroenterology draws a link between high blood bile acid levels and liver cancer in some individuals. Led by Matam Vijay-Kumar, Ph.D., professor and director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium, the study suggests a need for regular blood bile acid level testing and a cautious approach to fiber intake in individuals who know they have high levels of bile acids in their blood.

Matam Vijay-Kumar, Ph.D., standing in a laboratory with Beng San Yeoh, Ph.D.

For the last decade, advanced pancreatic cancer has predominantly been treated with one of two first-line combination chemotherapies, but there is limited data directly comparing the two therapies’ effectiveness. A new systematic review and meta-analysis led by Nooraldin Merza, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine and internal medicine specialist, provides valuable information for clinicians weighing which therapy to prescribe.

Nooraldin Merza, M.D.

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Last Updated: 2/7/24