Physician scientists and the Perelman School of Medicine conduct a broad spectrum of research in Barrett's Esophagus, from basic laboratory studies and translational approaches, to clinical trials.
In the basic science laboratories, scientists are utilizing innovative genetic approaches in mice to identify the Barrett’s “cell of origin”. They are also adapting tissue engineering approaches to develop human cell based models for Barrett’s Esophagus. The role of Notch signaling, Notch pathway inhibitors, oxidative stress and DNA damage in disease onset and progression are active areas of study. Lastly, as human Barrett’s susceptibility genes are identified by collaborators studying high-risk Barrett’s Esophagus families, these novel model systems will be used to test these gene candidates for activity and function.
In the clinics, physicians are actively enrolling patients in a number of studies including efforts to identify the cell of origin for Barrett’s based on gene expression profiles, to determine if intestinal stem cell markers predict disease recurrence after radio-frequency ablation, and whether other biomarkers can be used to predict responsiveness to ablation therapy. A description of the current clinical trials can be found here.
In addition, Penn investigators collaborate with the NIH-sponsored Cancer Prevention Network to explore novel chemopreventive therapies for Barrett’s esophagus.
Stem Cells and the Origin of Barrett's Esophagus