G Francia

Project Title: Preclinical models of circulating colon cancer cells to evaluate anti-cancer therapies

Among all the racial groups, human colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality rates are highest for African American males and females. The primary goal of this RTRN project is to establish preclinical models of CRC for future research, using samples from African American and Hispanic patients. The project builds on previous work from the lab of Dr. Temesgen Samuel (Tuskegee), who is studying inhibition of the NF-kB pathway as an anti-cancer strategy (Samuel et al., BMC Cancer, 2014. 14: p. 599), and from a previous collaborative study by Dr. Francia with Dr. Christina Hackl on colon cancer models (Hackl et al., Gut, 2013. 62(2): p. 259-71). Clinical samples will be primarily obtained from a collaboration with Dr. Upender Manne, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is an NIH-designated center serving communities in Alabama with an emphasis on health disparities. Studying the biology of CRC using samples from African American and Hispanic patients will incorporate samples from these minority populations into existing preclinical models, and testing new therapies for CRC will benefit all patients.

Establishing clinically relevant models of colon cancer will advance translational research on metastasis, including evaluation of therapeutics for advanced stage-CRCs. Additionally, the project will promote collaboration among the investigators’ laboratories and allow collection of preliminary data for R-category grants.