Colon cancer "precision" research makes cover of top cancer journal

A description of recent work from the Hormel Institute highlighted on the cover of Ebiomedicine

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Colon cancer "precision" research makes cover of top cancer journal "Ebiomedicine".


Groundbreaking cancer research from The Hormel Institute's Dr. Seung Ho Shin made the cover article of a top online research journal EBioMedicine. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and therefore better and more effective research and treatments for this disease are essential.


The published article describes important cancer biomarker research conducted by Dr. Shin under the guidance of executive director Dr. Zigang Dong in collaboration with others in the Molecular and Cellular Biology section. It is accompanied by a guest editorial on advances in pairing cancer biomarkers to more effective therapies. 


"By studying altered biological pathways, we can discover clues about what goes wrong when cancer strikes," said Dr. Shin. “A team effort from several diverse fields of science enabled us to discover a means to analyze cancer to identify cancer biomarkers and utilize them for effective treatments in precision oncology. Technical support provided by Todd Schuster and Tara Adams (The Hormel Institute), and close collaboration with China-US (Henan) Hormel Cancer Institute facilitated our progress."


The study of biomarkers is important because they are molecules in our body that when measured, can provide clues about the state of health and disease.   Scientists can now specifically identify important molecules and pathways that are implicated in cancer.  Some could provide important details about the particular cancer, including the stage of the disease and more effective methods to treat it. For the first time in 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a cancer drug (pembrolizumab) that was based on a common biomarker across different cancer types, rather than standard tumor features such as site of origin or histology. 


Dr. Shin and colleagues analyzed the role of a potential cancer biomarker in colon cancer called beta-catenin. They found that the levels of beta-catenin in tumors were a good indicator of whether a drug that targeted the pathway could kill cancer cells. This research is important because it demonstrated that the level of the cancer biomarker (beta-catenin), could be used to determine the optimal treatment (e.g., whether to use a beta-catenin inhibitor).


Precision oncology continues to hold great promise for cancer research. Dr. Shin's research highlights how simple genetic tests that allow doctors to prescribe tailored treatments to cancer patients (taking into account their genetic backgrounds) could become a reality – allowing doctors to maximize treatment and minimize adverse side effects.



EBioMedicine - The effective translation of insights gained from biomedical research into improved human health is a global priority. To this end, Elsevier has looked to the leadership of its two leading brands, Cell Press and The Lancet, to guide the launch of EBioMedicine.  EBioMedicine will cover the entire breadth of translational and clinical research within all disciplines of life and health sciences, ranging from basic science to clinical and public/global health science.


The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota - Started in 1942 by Jay C. Hormel, The Hormel Institute, UMN is comprised of a group of highly successful scientists who are focused on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to develop new anti-cancer agents. In 2016 the Institute celebrated a major expansion, which doubled its size, adding 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and the Ray Live Learning Center, a 250-seat auditorium plus event room with advanced technology to facilitate international medical research collaborations and presentations. Overall, The Hormel Institute’s expansion is expected to add about 120 faculty and staff jobs in the next few years, growing the Institute to about 250 overall, and currently there are 17 research sections.  The Hormel Institute is a high achieving unit and part of the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota.


Gail Dennison

Director of Development & Public Relations, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota

Gail Dennison is the director of development and public relations for The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota located in Austin, Minnesota. Gail heads the department responsible for external marketing of The Hormel Institute and fundraising development. This includes promoting public support for The Hormel Institute's cancer research, securing grants for technology, and developing cancer research fundraising support. Gail is a member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Group, past president of the Chamber of Commerce, on the executive board of Austin Area Foundation and Austin Community Growth Venture Fund and serves on the board of the Development Corporation of Austin, Austin Aspires Education Initiative, APEX Austin, Association of Fundraising Professionals and GRAUC, the Greater Rochester Advocates for Universities and Colleges. Education includes a Masters in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, Winona, Minnesota and Bachelor of Science in business.