Subhash C. Chauhan, PhD, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has received a grant totaling $1.75 million to study the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer, the second deadliest cancer and one that disproportionally affects people of African-American and Native American descent.
“Colorectal cancer is a prevalent problem in our society,” said Dr. Chauhan, a professor in the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy and Pathology in the College of Medicine. “Our research team is truly excited to explore underlying molecular factors associated with this health disparity.”
His project is titled “MUC13 Mucin in Colorectal Cancer Health Disparity.” The funding is from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and will be distributed over five years. His co-investigators at UTHSC are Meena Jaggi, PhD; Nadeem Zafar, MBBS, MPhil; Murali Yallapu, PhD; Stephen W. Behrman, MD, FACS; and Sheema Khan, PhD. Additional key participants are Susan Puumala, PhD, and Diane Maher, PhD, of Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Colorectal cancer affects more than 1 million people every year. A recent study has identified three main hot spots in the United States, the highest being in the Mississippi Delta region (40 percent higher than rest of the country), which includes the tristate area of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. However, it is not known why this disease is more common in these areas. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the beginning stages of colorectal cancer, and to identify new biomarkers that can be used for early stage diagnosis, metastasis and drug response.
Dr. Chauhan and his research team have identified a novel transmembrane mucin, MUC13, which is prominently seen in colorectal cancer, and is involved in its pathogenesis. Researchers hope to determine if MUC13 can be used as a molecular signature for early detection of aggressive and metastatic instances of the disease. It is the first study to relate this health disparity with MUC13 regulation.
This study may help in designing preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce colorectal cancer mortality in underserved populations.
The National Cancer Institute is dedicated to research and spreading knowledge centered on cancer. For more information, visit www.cancer.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.