CRI Funded Scientists

Valerie Phoebe O’Brien, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Area of Research: Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death worldwide, and up to 90% of cases are associated with bacterial infection by Helicobacter pylori (Hp). Half of the world’s population is infected with Hp—which causes inflammation and can disrupt the acidic environment of the stomach—but the vast majority of these people will not develop stomach cancer. However, in 1-2% of infected people, a complex interplay between the bacteria, the host, and behavioral factors results in stomach cancer development.

The mechanisms underlying this interplay are unknown though, in part because there haven’t been good animal models to study it, until recently. Now, with the aid of a new mouse model, Dr. O’Brien is characterizing Hp’s behavior during the development of this inflammation in the stomach and investigating host inflammatory responses to infection. Overall, Dr. O’Brien’s work aims to address significant gaps in knowledge about how chronic Hp infection and inflammation contribute to stomach cancer. Her results could yield new insights into the complex interplay between Hp, chronic inflammation, and stomach cancer development, and may reveal new drug targets that could enable strategies to treat or prevent tumor development.

Projects and Grants

Assessing Helicobacter pylori-mediated chronic inflammation and its contributions to stomach cancer progression

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center | Stomach Cancer | 2019 | Nina Salama, PhD

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