We are an organization built for action. Since 2009, the Gastric Cancer Foundation (GCF) has been devoted to funding stomach cancer research in pursuit of a cure.
With relatively little funding historically directed toward gastric cancer, there has not been adequate research to study the genetics of the disease or its underlying biology. GCF has stepped in to bridge this gap and advance the field of gastric cancer research.
In 2011, GCF launched the first Gastric Cancer Registry, a secure HIPAA-compliant database housed at Stanford University. Through the Registry, researchers gather significant data about people with stomach cancer that includes lifestyle, health and family histories, environmental factors as well as physical samples of the tumors themselves.
Information and samples stored in the Registry enable researchers to conduct sophisticated and advanced genomic analyses and compile information from a large group of people. These may include studies to identify gastric cancer’s molecular complexities and map the clinical associations of specific genetic errors against patient prognosis and outcome.
The Registry enables far more than molecular understanding of stomach cancer. Through data, researchers may:
- Analyze multiple variables to determine trends.
- Explore possible relationships between lifestyle, environment and personal risk factors in the onset of gastric cancer.
- Identify genetic, environmental, geographic, ethnic, occupational and other differences that provide clues pointing to risk factors based on the availability of family histories, medical records, biosamples and tumor tissue samples.
- Inform the direction of projects geared towards early detection, educational outreach and other areas of interest to people with gastric cancer.
- Support research that may optimize behavioral or lifestyle changes to improve the quality of life for people with gastric cancer.
We urge all people with stomach cancer, or relatives of anyone who has died from the disease to register. You can make a difference in guiding research to find a cure. Contact the Registry at (650)724-9948 or firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or assistance in completing registration.
The Gastric Cancer Registry was created with the generosity of Diane and Ronald Weintraub, in memory of their beloved daughter Beth Weintraub Schoenfeld.
GCF is the primary contributor to a Stanford University Genome Technology Center project that is creating a digital version of the gastric cancer genome based on DNA sequencing. Investigators use a high-performance computing and storage system to conduct state-of-the-art analysis of stomach cancer tissue and blood DNA samples. They use the integration of three separate approaches to provide a high-resolution overview of the gastric cancer genome.
- DNA sequencing - identifies large errors that involve entire regions of the cancer genome and delineates these complex changes with a DNA sequencing process called paired-end analysis.
- Analysis of targeted regions – identifies specific mutations. Regions are chosen based on the likelihood that they contain cancer genes, partly extrapolated based on known cancer genes and genes occurring in the genomic changes discovered in the first approach.
- Characterization of RNA transcriptome of gastric tumors - special emphasis is placed on genes that are identified from the first two approaches.
This integrated approach makes it possible to ascertain the fundamental “digital code” of gastric cancer and to identify errors in the DNA code, which contribute to cancer prognosis. Furthermore, the highly sophisticated process identifies potential targets for specific drug therapies. The availability of this information holds significant value in helping researchers improve the clinical care of gastric cancer patients.
Identifying the Genetic Inheritance Factors for Gastric Cancer Risk and Development
By bringing together the Registry and genomics, GCF strives to build an understanding of the genetic inheritance that places some individuals at a high risk for the disease.
GCF is working toward identifying individuals or families with a particularly high risk of developing gastric cancer due to hereditary factors, and intensive screening for early detection.
The only way that we can stop cancer before it starts is to understand those people who may have an inherent genetic risk. DNA sequencing technologies offer powerful approaches to identifying candidate genes for familial cancer risk. Ultimately, this genetic approach to risk assessment will be used together with advances in clinical screening and prevention of gastric cancer.
Having successfully launched the Gastric Cancer Registry and created a growing resource of statistically significant data, GCF is expanding its research strategy. GCF has established a new partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Foundation to initiate a research grant program in gastric (stomach) and esophageal cancer. The AGA Institute will match GCF’s commitment of $1,125,000, resulting in a $2,250,000 endowment to fund young investigators who are researching the fundamental pathobiology of upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) cancers. Research data will be used to understand and ultimately prevent or develop a cure for these diseases.
The AGA–Gastric Cancer Foundation Research Scholar Award in Gastric and Esophageal Cancer will provide young researchers with $90,000 per year for three years. Research data will be used to understand and ultimately prevent or develop a cure for these diseases. These efforts will be strengthened by GCF’s continuing investments in the Gastric Cancer Registry and Genomic Sequencing. Researchers interested in applying for the AGA-Gastric Cancer Foundation Research Scholar Award in Gastric and Esophageal Cancer should visit www.gastro.org/foundation.
Dr. Mohamed El-Zaatari, PhD, from University of Michigan, has been named the first AGA-GCF Research Scholar in Gastric and Esophageal Cancer. Beginning in July 2014, the award will support Dr. Zaatari’s research into the role of myeloid cells in the transition from chronic inflammation to gastric pre-neoplasia. Dr. El-Zaatari is seeking to determine the process by which chronic inflammation causes certain cells to become pre-malignant. Ultimately, what Dr. El-Zaatari and his colleagues learn could point to new targets for drug development.