Tony Godfrey, PhD, associate professor of surgery and associate chair of research in the Department of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC), was recently awarded a two-year, $225,000 grant from the DeGregorio Family Foundation for Gastric and Esophageal Cancer Research & Education. Godfrey and collaborators Lincoln Stein, MD, PhD, from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and Virginia Litle MD, director, Barrett’s Esophageal Program at BMC, will use the funding to study Barrett’s Esophagus (BE). People with BE are at increased risk for a type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Currently, the only way to detect esophageal adenocarcinoma is with an endoscopy requiring a hospital visit. The research team is developing a new approach for esophageal cancer detection that could be performed simply in a primary care physician’s office or even at home. The approach uses a sponge-containing capsule attached to a string. When swallowed, the sponge expands in the stomach and can then be pulled back through the esophagus and out of the mouth. Esophageal cells are rubbed off onto the sponge as it is pulled through the esophagus and can be examined to look for cancerous changes.
“Our project, clinically conducted in our Barrett’s Esophagus Program at Boston Medical Center, will attempt to find cancer cells using a sensitive method to detect mutations that are known to cause esophageal adenocarcinoma,” said Godfrey, who is also principal investigator of the study. “If successful, this project may lead to more wide-spread esophageal cancer screening, earlier detection of tumors and improved survival.”
The DeGregorio Family Foundation seeks to promote and facilitate education and collaborative research on the pathogenesis, early diagnosis and treatment of upper gastrointestinal malignancies.