Biomarkers for early gastric cancer detection, progression and therapy response
Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with incidence being especially high in Asia. The development of gastric tumors is a multifactorial process in which infection with H. pylori is the main risk factor, while the individual risk is modulated by genetic and epigenetic factors. The chronic infection activates a number of inflammatory signaling pathways and induces DNA damage, contributing to the development and progression of precursor gastric lesions to gastric cancer. Late detection due to the lack of efficient biomarkers as well as limited therapeutic strategies are the major reasons for the poor prognosis observed in gastric cancer patients. Different studies have aimed at identifying novel biomarkers, however, no single marker with sufficient predictive power to identify early stages has been demonstrated so far. Thus, the identification of biomarkers is an important aspect to address this urgent medical need. Notably, the detection of biomarkers by non-invasive methods is of major significance for general clinical practice, especially in countries where prevalence is high and gastroscopic screening is not available for the broad population. Within a joint collaborative project with the Peking University School of Oncology, and under the umbrella of our research presence PYLOTUM, we aim at establishing a screening algorithm for gastric cancer associated with H. pylori infection based on a combination of biomarkers detectable in peripheral blood which can be utilized to screen populations at high risk. This predictive model might eventually represent a powerful tool with a major impact on gastric cancer morbidity and mortality.