I am an experimental biologist, working mainly on colitis and colitis-associated colorectal cancer, looking into the link between inflammation and tumourigenesis.
Individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a significantly increased risk of developing colon cancer. Consequently, IBD patients are subjected to intensive and expensive surveillance programs, aiming to detect precursor lesions in their early developmental stages. However, the effectiveness of these programs is compromised by several factors, including the difficulty in detecting dysplastic lesions at endoscopy.
In consideration of this, the project I am working on consists in undertaking an integrated omics analysis of colitis-associated progressor lesions and sporadic lesions, to determine whether molecular characterization of colitis affected bowel tissue can aid determine further cancer risk.
We aim to identify a genetic and/or epigenetic pattern that can be used to generate, validate and clinically test a cost-effective molecular biomarker, which can allow for IBD patients to be discerned into those that are at an increased risk of developing colitis-associated colon cancer and those that are not. The molecular biomarker would, therefore, enable us to better characterise and manage IBD patients. Furthermore, we would like to elucidate the carcinogenic pathway of colitis-associated colorectal cancer, particularly looking into the WNT signalling pathway.