Scientists receive £200,000 AICR grant for stomach cancer research

Scientists in Australia have been awarded almost £200,000 from an international charity, based in Scotland, towards their research into a 'forgotten cancer.'

Stomach cancer is strongly linked to prolonged inflammation of the lining of the stomach and changes in the bacteria found there. But why those changes happen and how the inflammation occurs, is unknown. Using his £196,447 grant from the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), Associate Professor Brendan Jenkins and his team from Monash University, in Victoria, are investigating the mechanisms behind this inflammation and stomach cancer.

In particular, using stomach cells grown in the lab and samples taken from stomach cancer patients, he is looking at a gene called STAT3 which is over-active in the disease and how that affects molecules called miRNAs, which have been found to play a role in cancer.

Associate Professor Jenkins said the three-year grant from the charity would allow his team to: "further our investigations into the events downstream of STAT3 which promote cancer. Identifying molecules, such as miRNAs, which are directly regulated by STAT3 will pave the way to eventually translate our laboratory findings into potential clinical and commercial realities, for instance by creating "disease signatures" which can be used as potential biomarkers for disease detection/monitoring or therapeutic targets".

Over the past 25 years, the five-year relative survival rates for stomach cancer have tripled in Britain but are still low at around 15% . The most up to date statistics show that, in 2008, 5180 people in this country died from the disease. In the same year, around the world almost 990,000 people were diagnosed with stomach cancer and 738,000 died from it.

Dr Mark Matfield AICR's scientific co-ordinator said: "It is really important to study stomach cancer, because it is one of the 'forgotten cancers'.  It is more common than leukaemia, more deadly than brain cancer and far, far more difficult to treat than breast or prostate cancer.  And yet, there is surprisingly little research being done into it. There is a desperate need to understand more about this disease and develop more effective ways of treating or preventing it."

According to Australia's national agency for health and welfare statistics, the five-year relative survival after diagnosis of stomach cancer in the country compares favourably with that in other Western countries for which relative survival data is available. Australian males have the highest five-year relative survival, followed closely by Italy, Europe, Finland, Iceland and the United States.

Although the ranking is quite different, the same six countries have similar five-year relative survival proportions for females, with Australia ranked fifth of the selected countries.

Source: Association for International Cancer Research


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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