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Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R01CA140657-05 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Maley, Carlo
Organization: University Of California, San Francisco
Project Title: Modeling Neoplastic Progression in Barrett's Esophagus
Fiscal Year: 2013
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Our long-term goals are to understand the evolutionary dynamics of neoplastic progression and to develop effective interventions that can prevent or delay cancer. Neoplasms progress to malignancy through a process of clonal evolution. However, the dynamics of that evolution are poorly understood. We propose to develop an agent-based computational model of neoplastic progression in Barrett's esophagus as a tool to study the dynamics of neoplastic progression and to integrate the genetic, pathological, clinical, and epidemiological data on this disease. We will represent the cells of the Barrett's epithelium as the agents of the model so that we can capture the genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics that drive neoplastic progression. Barrett's esophagus is a human, pre-malignant condition in which the squamous lining of the esophagus is replaced by a crypt structured intestinal metaplasia. Barrett's esophagus is the only known precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma, the incidence of which is increasing faster than any other cancer in the Western world. However, most people with Barrett's esophagus never develop cancer, so there is an urgent need for methods to predict risk of progression and intervene in patients at high risk. We will carry out a sensitivity analysis of our model to identify the model parameters that are likely to make the best biomarkers for cancer risk prediction and targets for cancer prevention interventions. Key aspects of neoplastic progression in Barrett's esophagus are unknown and will have to be measured to develop a comprehensive, predictive model of the disease. We have previously shown that the genetic diversity of clones of cells, at a single time point, within Barrett's epithelium is predictive of future progression to cancer. This is either because genetic diversity increases during progression or because high-risk patients have high, constant levels of genetic diversity compared to low-risk patients. We have shown that we can use a cell lineage assay based on detecting mutations in a panel of 244 highly mutable microsatellites in single cells, to measure genetic diversity among cells in Barrett's esophagus. We will determine how genetic diversity changes over time, in 60 well-characterized patients with Barrett's esophagus, and fit the parameters of the model to those results using approximate Bayesian computation. We will test whether or not non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, which is associated with a dramatic reduction in cancer risk in Barrett's esophagus, is associated with a decrease in genetic diversity among cells. We will also measure the density of crypts in a cohort of 243 patients with Barrett's esophagus at two time points to 1) determine the number of crypts that should be simulated in the model in order to represent the tissue, 2) determine if crypt density changes over time, 3) test if the number or density of crypts predicts progression to cancer and 4) test for an association between NSAID use and crypt density. This project will result in an improved understanding of neoplastic progression in Barrett's esophagus and a model that can act as a predictive tool for identifying promising targets for intervention and biomarker development.

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