Predicting Bowel Cancer

Nadia Nasreddin is an experimental biologist and first year DPhil student in Clinical Medicine based at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics (Nuffield Department of Medicine).  She undertook her first degree in Biomedical Sciences and then did a master’s in Human Molecular Genetics. Nadia then worked as a research assistant at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Prof Simon Leedham’s lab. Her main area of research is colitis and colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CA-CRC), principally looking into the link between inflammation and tumourigenesis.

Human IBD dysplastic sample – example of LGD highly infiltrated with immune cells – To be able to molecularly phenotype the lesions laser capture microdissection (LCM) is used to isolate the crypts. Image courtesy of Nadia Nasreddin.

Individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a significantly increased risk of developing colon cancer. Consequently, IBD patients are subjected to intensive surveillance programmes, aiming to detect cancer precursor lesions in their early developmental stages. However, the effectiveness of these programmes is compromised by several factors, in addition to being costly and invasive. Even following detection of these early cancer precursor lesions, the need for colectomy is highly contentious and represents a major clinicla issue.
Nadia is currently working on a project undertaking an integrated omics analysis of colitis-associated lesions with the aim of validating and clinically testing a cost-effective molecular biomarker, applicable to archival tissue that can stratify patients by cancer risk and help in the distinction between colitis-associated and sporadic lesions. The team is also looking into the link between the molecular profiles and digital pathology in colitis-associated lesions. As colitis-associated colorectal cancer is both clinically and molecularly different from sporadic colorectal cancer, the aim is to also elucidate its molecular pathogenesis. The ultimate goal of the study is elucidate the pathogenic pathway of  colitis-associated colorectal cancer and generate a molecular biomarker that can aid in the determination of patients’ risk, inform prophylactic decisions and provide guidance to endoscopic surveillance regiments.

Nadia’s DPhil supervisors are Prof Simon Leedham and Dr James East from the Nuffield Department of Medicine.
Collaborators include Prof Trevor Graham and his lab (Barts Cancer Institute), Dr Philip Dunne (Queen’s University Belfast) and Dr Maurice Loughrey (Belfast Heath and Social Trust).

Nadia’s DPhil is supported by the BRC (NIHR Molecular Diagnosis BRC Theme), her research project is funded by CRUK’s early detection scheme.