6 months ago


A publication for alumni, friends and donors of the University of Washington Division of Gastroenterology


RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT GI BIOREPOSITORY AND PATIENT REGISTRY: ACCELERATING PRECISION MEDICINE & ADVANCING CUTTING-EDGE RESEARCH Health care has moved into an exciting era of “precision” medicine, and amazing advances have been made in molecular and cellular biology over the past decade that have dramatically changed our understanding of factors that mediate gastrointestinal health and disease. Also known as precision medicine, the care of patients has been increasingly guided by the molecular characterization of their diseases, which has allowed care providers to more accurately diagnose GI illnesses, determine prognosis, and predict the risk of disease and response to therapy. While many diseases look the same clinically, they are very different at the molecular level, and these molecular features appear to more accurately predict how well the disease will respond to specific therapies. This changes how we treat patients, and it allows us to identify treatments that are more likely to be successful. Our ability to translate dramatic advances in our understanding of the molecular pathology of digestive diseases into clinical care has been slowed or blocked by a lack of high-quality, clinically annotated patient samples. To address this deficit in critical research knowledge, the Division and Dr. William Grady, Professor of Medicine at UW and Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has established the Gastrointestinal Biorepository and Patient Registry. The Biorepository and Registry form a highly valuable research core that is actively collecting tissue samples and health information from prospectively consented patients, who have agreed to allow access to their health data and to donate biosamples for the sake of advancing science and ultimately improving our ability to care for patients. Collected biospecimens are processed using strict, state-of-the-art protocols that ensure their long term viability and future utility in discovery science. Because the biospecimens reveal information about both the biology of the patient and the disease, it is critical to know as much as possible about our patients and their specific diseases. Well annotated specimens --the who, what, when, and Because it takes many years to collect enough samples that have a particular characteristic, it is often not possible to do such research without a biorepository as it would take 5-10 years to collect enough samples to even begin a study. By having an existing biorepository, research is accelerated by 5-10 years. More importantly, research that could not be done before biorepositories existed can now take place. This type of resource is often critical for getting NIH grant support in an era of hyper-competition for funding. where of each specific specimen—are a unique and essential aspect the of the Registry that makes it extremely valuable for translational research. The Registry serves as a bridge between the collected biosamples and each patient's health data. The well-annotated samples in the UW biorepository have in-depth and highly detailed demographics, precise and meticulous clinical notations, exhaustive treatment history, and accurately recorded disease information. This data is critical for being able to do translational research that connects studies done in the laboratory with patients and their illnesses. Translational research is what leads to new ways of treating patients. For more information about the Biorepository and Registry, please contact Wynn Burke at

NEW GRANT AWARDS BIOMARKERS AND PROTEOMICS: R01 HIGH-INTENSITY FOCUSED ULTRASOUND: R01 JOO HA HWANG, MD, PhD ULTRASOUND-ENHANCED DRUG PENETRATION FOR TREATMENT OF PANCREATIC CANCER Pancreas cancer is expected to become the second deadliest cancer in the United States by 2020. Current standard of care only offers a modest survival benefit due to extensive fibrous matrix, which impedes chemotherapy delivery. The proposed work will benefit public health by bringing to clinical translation the promising new technology of ultrasound-guided pulsed HIFU for enhancing the penetration of chemotherapeutic drugs into pancreatic tumors. RU CHEN, PhD BIOMARKERS FOR EARLY DETECTION OF COLORECTAL CANCER IN ULCERATIVE COLITIS Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease that predisposes to colorectal cancer. Patients with extensive UC of more than eight years duration have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. The current standard of practice for patients with longstanding UC is to perform life-long colonoscopic surveillance for detection of dysplasia to cancer, and depending on the finding, undergo either colectomy or more frequent surveillance examinations. This project aims to develop an innovative and more effective patient-friendly approach to improve the current UC cancer surveillance strategy by developing biomarkers for clinical testing, combining immunohistochemistry (IHC) and a targeted proteomic technique to determine the most accurate IHC and proteomic signatures for identifying UC patients with dysplasia. VIDEO SPOTLIGHT PULSED FOCUSED ULTRASOUND: R01 TATIANA KHOKHLOVA, PhD PULSED FOCUSED ULTRASOUND EXPOSURES AND DEVICES FOR TISSUE PERMEABILIZATION WITHOUT CONTRAST AGENTS Cavitation induced by ultrasound combined with systemically administered ultrasound contrast agents has been extensively studied over the past decade, and successfully applied to the delivery of a number of different drugs to solid tumours. The overall goal of this proposal is to develop feedback controlled pulsed focused ultrasound treatment protocols for drug delivery to solid tumours that can be implemented using small footprint, (potentially diagnostic) ultrasound probes. MECHANICAL TISSUE ABLATION WITH FOCUSED ULTRASOUND: CLINICAL APPLICATIONS An international team at the APL-UW Center for Industrial + Medical Ultrasound is developing a noninvasive surgical technique called boiling histotripsy. The technique uses ultrasound to liquefy targeted tissue, such as a tumor, inside the body, with no damage to intervening tissues. Boiling histotripsy holds promise for any treatment that requires tissue ablation, from benign and malignant tumors to hematomas, and regenerative medicine.