Colorectal Cancer Research and Economic Recovery

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is helping to pay for critically needed colorectal cancer research. In return, scientists and their support staff are hired or kept working, new equipment and supplies are purchased, and local communities benefit economically.

As of July 2009, the National Cancer Institute has used ARRA funds to award 40 grants associated with colorectal cancer research, totaling $7,284,159. The grants support both ongoing and new colorectal cancer research.

Some of the NCl-supported colorectal cancer research projects that ARRA funds are moving ahead are working on speeding the translation of basic research findings into the prevention and early detection of colon and rectal cancer including:

  • Two of NCI’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) focused on translational research in colorectal cancer.
  • Two other SPOREs focused on the entire gastrointestinal system, which includes cancers of the colon, rectum, esophagus, and pancreas.
  • The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO), a large-scale clinical trial taking place at 10 screening centers across the country, determining whether certain cancer screening tests reduce deaths from prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancers.

NCI-supported projects in colorectal cancer research are dedicated to uncovering the causes and inner workings of colorectal cancer including critical research into understanding the altered genes contribute to cancer progression and exploring the roles of genetic mutations in cancer risk and initiation.

  • The Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN) is a new NCI program focused on expanding our understanding of the role of the microenvironment in which a tumor originates. TMEN is looking at the critical role the microenvironment plays during tumor development, progression, and metastasis.
  • One of the nine TMEN initiatives is studying the molecular and functional characterization of colon tumor cancer stem cells and their surrounding tissue.

NCI is also studying increased risk for colorectal cancer associated with family history, behavioral factors, and exposures in the environment.

  • The Colon Cancer Family Registry (C-CFR), an NCI supported initiative, is an international research infrastructure for scientists interested in conducting population and clinic-based interdisciplinary studies on the genetic and molecular epidemiology of colon cancer and its behavioral implications. The C-CFR has information and biospecimens contributed by more than 11,300 families with a broad range of colon cancer risk matched with a control group of unaffected relatives and similar populations.
  • Additionally, NCI’s Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) centers are collaborating to reduce cancer incidence, side effects, and deaths associated with obesity, low levels of physical activity, and poor diet. Two of the four TREC centers are focused on colorectal cancer.

NCI is optimistic that ARRA funds will support additional colorectal cancer research in the future. Watch for updates at the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at NCI.

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