The global incidence of colorectal cancer is steadily increasing and it is currently the fourth most deadly cancer type. Increased knowledge of tumour development as well as research in screening, prevention and treatment is of utmost importance.
In the Molecular Genetics group we have a broad range of research projects with particular emphasis on prognostic and predictive biomarkers, miRNA, and intra- and intertumor heterogeneity.
In order to achieve more precise individual treatment, we aim to improve patient stratification beyond clinical staging which is the current standard. So far this work has resulted in two prognostic signatures, ColoGuidePro and ColoGuideEx, both based on gene expression. Additionally, we have identified a biomarker, RCC2, which identifies high-risk patients within both the major colorectal cancer phenotypes.
Further, we aim at identifying miRNAs that have functional implications for development of colon cancer. So far, we have found and validated three miRNAs that promote proliferation and tumor cell survival. Moreover, extensive work is being put into identifying miRNAs that can serve as biomarkers for individual monitoring of early relapse.
Another important research area in our group is tumour heterogeneity and clonal evolution. We have established the SMART Colorectal Cancer Project, where we aim to characterize colorectal tumours and their metastases genetically. An initial study has already been performed in collaboration with Haukeland Hospital in Bergen, and a validation study is underway.