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Digestive Diseases 

Research in the area of colorectal cancer is advancing at Baylor with a focus on the study of genes that may predispose certain families to cancer risk. Other research will evaluate medications and foods that may reduce the risk of developing colon polyps, investigate the JC virus (a commonly carried virus suspected in the causation of colorectal cancer) and seek a better understanding of how chronic inflammation leads to colon cancer.

Baylor is working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other centers across the nation to study a variety of issues regarding digestive diseases. Among these are:

  • Two multi-center NIH-sponsored trials investigating the use of certain medications for acute liver failure.
  • Baylor is part of a large study designed to determine if a combination of three therapies are more effective than current treatments for chronic hepatitis C.
  • Baylor is researching gastrointestinal hemorrhage caused by stomach and duodenal ulcers.
  • For patients suffering from fat malabsorption and malnutrition due to resection of the small intestine, Baylor research shows that conjugated bile acids, taken orally with meals, substantially reduce fat malabsorption.
  • Other trials under way evaluate the use of morphine for pain management in patients with acute pancreatitis. Trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry include studies of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and ulcerative colitis.
  • Investigators also are studying the intestine of patients with cystic fibrosis to learn more about abnormalities that cause this disease.
  • Researchers at the Gastroenterology Lab at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas perform all forms of molecular biology, including high-throughput DNA sequencing, quantitative mRNA measurement, SNP analysis, rapid-throughput dHPLC-based screening for DNA mutations, tissue culture, molecular biology, biochemistry and other forms of cell biology.
  • Baylor researchers received a renewal of a $1.9 million grant over five years from the NIH to improve the ability to diagnose hereditary colon cancer, to study the molecular biology of the tumor in the laboratory and develop the first preventive strategies for this disease.
  • An NIH grant was also awarded to Baylor researchers to study the role of a transforming virus, called a JC virus, in colorectal cancer. Researchers plan to determine how colon cancer occurs and to develop a long-term plan for preventing the cancer.
  • Baylor researchers have entered into a multi-center clinical trial collaboration with a National Cancer Institute-funded grant from the University of Arizona. In this trial, patients will be treated with low-dose aspirin and selenium to determine if this reduces the recurrence rates of adenomatous polyps.
  • Researchers have uncovered several germline mutations in families with one of the familial forms of colorectal cancer. This allows people who are carriers of the mutation to get appropriate, potentially life-saving care.
  • Research collaborations have been established between Peter Lance, M.D., at the University of Arizona and Dennis Ahnen, M.D., at the University of Colorado for an NCI-funded international familial cancer registry, which will provide Baylor researchers with samples of DNA from individuals with familial cancer syndromes. This is an essential resource for improving the ability to make a definitive diagnosis in familial cancer cases. Baylor Dallas has also established collaborations with Myriad Genetics, a genetic diagnostics company in Salt Lake City, UT, for the same purpose, and with Exact Scientific Laboratories in Massachusetts to develop new, noninvasive means to detect sporadic colon cancer in asymptomatic individuals.

 More on Research Studies at Baylor