Elite Research Scholarships

Viruses and Barrett's oesophagus

This ground-breaking translational research project will investigate factors other than the known factors of acid reflux, smoking and obesity as the cause of Barrett's oesophagus  (a pre-malignant lesion) and its progression.  Barrett's is the precursor of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the fastest growing cancer in the Western world. Certain viruses, like Human Papillomavirus, HPV, have already been implicated in squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus, and are known to be involved in cervical cancer.  The hypothesis to be tested is that HPV may be associated with Barrett's oesophagus.  Tissue biopsies already obtained from patients with Barratt's oesophagus, dysplasia and from controls will be tested for the presence of HPV DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Analysis of gene expression in such tissues and adenocarcinoma will be used to identify the natural progression and causative mechanisms of the disease. Other techniques to be included will be tissue culture studies, and exploration of other associations which may include immunohistochemical studies and potential marker determination.

A positive outcome to this research may provide new approaches to preventing Barrett's oesophagus or its progresion to oesophageal cancer by vaccination.

More Information:
Contact: Associate Professor Elizabeth T (Lisa) Snow
Elizabeth.snow@utas.edu.au