Lankenau Medical Center is involved in a range of clinical research
activities aimed at advancing care for patients with digestive disease.
Many small studies are being conducted right at the medical center, in
collaborative investigations between Lankenau physicians and basic
scientists at Lankenau
Institute for Medical Research (LIMR). In addition, Lankenau Medical
Center is a regular participant in large, multisite clinical trials
spanning the scope of digestive diseases.
Effect of oral zinc on progression to cancer.
Several studies in animals have shown that zinc can prevent
different types of cancer, including esophageal cancer. LIMR
scientists and gastroenterologists at Lankenau Medical Center
are studying the potential for oral zinc (zinc lozenges) to slow
the progression of Barrett’s esophagus (noncancer) to dysplasia
(precancer) or adenocarcinoma (cancer). One hypothesis is that
zinc may help protect against cancer formation if it can be
absorbed into Barrett’s tissue. This study, which involves
patients being monitored for Barrett’s esophagus, is looking at
whether patients who take oral zinc daily for 2 weeks before a
surveillance endoscopy procedure have increased zinc levels in
biopsy samples of Barrett’s tissue.
Effect of oral zinc on “tight junctions” in Barrett’s
tissue. Tight junctions are gasket-like seals between
the cells of the digestive lining. Research at LIMR and
elsewhere has shown that zinc can tighten these cell
connections. One hypothesis is that by supporting the protective
barrier function of tight junctions in Barrett’s tissue, zinc
may help protect against development of esophageal cancer. In
this study, which is related to the one above, investigators are
looking at zinc’s effect on tight junctions between cells in
Barrett’s tissue samples from patients being monitored for
Protein patterns in precancerous tissue. This
LIMR-based study, which also involves patients being monitored
for Barrett’s esophagus, is looking at proteins that make up the
tight junctions between cells in Barrett’s tissue. The
investigators are examining biopsy samples to see whether
junctional proteins in precancerous Barrett’s tissue have a
consistent pattern that is recognizably different from
noncancerous tissue. If so, this pattern might help identify
patches of tissue with cancerous potential within the esophagus.
Effect of a new medication for treating celiac disease. Currently,
the only treatment for celiac disease is to adhere to a strict
gluten-free diet. This treatment is successful for most people.
The aim of this double-blind placebo-controlled phase 2 study is
to investigate the effectiveness of a new medication for
treating celiac disease in patients who have been following a
gluten-free diet for 1 year but are still experiencing symptoms.
Lankenau Medical Center is one of more than 60 study sites
across the United States and Canada participating in the study.
Effectiveness of a new, stool-based test for early
detection of colorectal cancer. Lankenau is
participating in a large study to evaluate how well a new type
of test functions as a screening test for early detection of
colorectal cancer in people at average risk. The study uses a
single stool sample that patients collect at home and send to a
lab. The study involves more than 100 sites across the United
States and Canada and is expected to enroll more than 10,000
Effect of oral zinc on “tight junctions” in the lining
of the colon. This LIMR-based study involves patients
who take oral zinc (zinc lozenges) daily for 2 weeks before
undergoing colonoscopy screening. The investigators are looking
to see if zinc has an effect on the “tight junctions” between
cells in the colorectal tissue samples. Research at LIMR and
elsewhere has shown that zinc can tighten these gasket-like
seals between cells of the digestive lining. One hypothesis is
that by supporting the protective barrier function of tight
junctions in the lining of the colon, zinc may help protect
against colorectal cancer formation.
Ensuring optimal treatment for hepatitis C.
Protease inhibitors have been used to treat HIV for a long time
but have only recently been approved to treat hepatitis C. Now,
most patients with hepatitis C are treated with a 3-drug
combination that includes a protease inhibitor plus the standard
drugs, pegylated interferon and ribavirin. When taken as
directed, this therapy results in a “cure” (eradication of
virus) in most people. The treatment is complex, however, and
requires strict patient compliance to be effective. Lankenau is
participating in a multisite study to determine the best way to
ensure patient compliance with this complex treatment regime.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Patterns of gene expression in IBD. There is growing
scientific evidence that microRNAs—tiny proteins that regulate gene
expression—play a key role in human immune function and that altered
function of microRNAs contributes to a range of immune-mediated
diseases, including IBD. Previous research shows that people with
different forms of IBD have different patterns of microRNA expression.
In this LIMR-based study, investigators are examining blood samples from
new patients with suspected IBD and healthy volunteers to determine
whether microRNA patterns differ among them. Discovery of unique
patterns of gene expression detectable in blood may prove useful as a
basis for simple tests to differentiate between various forms of IBD and
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.