One exciting development has us very hopeful. A novel protein marker known as STING has been found to detect leaked DNA fragments from the cancer cells, an indicator the cell has been damaged and to instruct the cancer cell to be destroyed.
Stomach and oesophageal cancers express very low levels of STING and it is thought that this may, in part, explain why these cancers evade cell death by the immune system as well as their poor response to traditional treatment. A GI Cancer Institute team led by A/Prof Weng Ng has discovered how to use STING in a clinical test. The team now hopes to determine what impact STING levels have on the ability for cancer to respond to treatment, how this impacts the immune response to cancer and ultimately how these cancer cells can survive.
The results may open the possibility of new therapies which enhance STING levels – that can then work with existing treatment to better improve patient outcomes for stomach and oesophageal cancers.
If the STING translational research produces successful results, the next step would be to look for STING protein in biospecimens already collected from our completed clinical trials to identify if levels of this protein correlated with how the patient responded to the trial treatment.
These findings could also be used to inform future trials into stomach and oesophageal cancer, with researchers building in this new molecular test into their routine biospecimen investigations to identify if levels of this protein are predictive of patient outcome across a range of new stomach and oesophageal treatments.
From The Digest, August 2022 edition
You can read more exciting achievements from the GI Cancer Institute here.