WRMC Participating in Global Study

hpylorigroupcroppedAMS Board Member, Seth Barnes, MD and member Deborah A. Johnson, MD, are part of the team conducting this worldwide clinical study governed by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Article from www.whiteriverhealthsystem.com, January 11, 2017.

White River Medical Center (WRMC) is currently the only hospital in the United States participating in a worldwide randomized controlled clinical study governed by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study focuses on analyzing Helicobacter Pylori, also known as H. Pylori, a bacteria linked to stomach cancer. This trial could lead to major breakthroughs in diagnosing stomach cancer at an early stage.

According to many cancer organizations, stomach cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths globally. As with every cancer, early diagnosis is the key for best treatment outcomes; however, symptoms during the early stages of stomach cancer are rare, making early diagnosis difficult.

“In many cases, when stomach cancer is diagnosed, it has already reached late stages,” said Dr. Luis Quiel, Hospital Medicine physician at WRMC. “By then, the cancer is much harder to treat and, unfortunately, success rates are much lower.”

Dr. Quiel is the NIH Coordinator for the clinical study at WRMC. He leads a team of collaborators including Hospitalists Dr. Miguel Villagra and Dr. Morgan Norton, Pathologist Dr. Deborah A. Johnson, and Internist Dr. Seth Barnes.

H. Pylori could be the link to early stomach cancer diagnosis.

H. Pylori is found in half of the world’s population. While the bacteria will never affect many who have it, studies have shown that certain strains of the bacteria are more strongly linked to stomach cancer.

Participants in the study are patients undergoing an upper endoscopy who carry the bacteria, or patients recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. Patients in the study will have one extra biopsy, which is sent to a multinational databank for genetic mapping of the H. Pylori bacteria. The goal is to identify the genetic differences in H. Pylori strains around the world in an effort to understand which specific types lead to conditions such as stomach cancer, or pre-cancerous lesions. If it can be determined which type of H. Pylori produces stomach cancer, doctors can develop early diagnosis protocols for at risk patients.

This clinical study trial has been approved by the NIH and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at WRMC, a committee designated to protect the rights and welfare of those participating in studies such as this. Approval from the IRB validates that the study is safe and is not significantly harmful to patients.

“Stomach cancer is a major problem worldwide,” said Dr. Quiel. “If we are successful in identifying the strains associated with gastric cancer, we will not only help patients in the U.S., but all across the world.”

Countries in Asia, Europe, and South America are also participating in the study. To ensure accuracy and avoid bias, this study is strictly voluntary. Researchers and participants receive no compensation.

“We are very grateful to our team, WRMC, and to the patients willing to participate for supporting this very important endeavor,” said Dr. Quiel. “One way to improve the future is to be involved in it. The patients in this study will make an important contribution to the future of medicine, and it is a privilege to work with them.”