Esophageal Cancer Research

Esophageal Research And Clinical Trials

Our clinicians and researchers frequently collaborate to develop and evaluate new therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing treatment, detection and prevention of esophageal cancer.

Some of our current research projects include:

  • City of Hope researchers, in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology, have developed a nanoparticle formulation of the chemotherapy drug camptothecin called CRLX101. CRLX101’s small size enables it to permeate the more leaky blood vessels present in tumors, allowing the anti-cancer drug to accumulate at cancer sites and minimizing its side effects on normal tissues. The drug has already shown promise for patients with lung and pancreatic cancers, and investigators hope it will have benefits for esophageal cancer patients as well.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein is linked to growth and progression of several cancers, including esophageal cancers, so City of Hope is participating in a phase III clinical trial to see whether adding trastuzumab (Herceptin) — a drug that targets HER2 — can enhance standard therapy’s effectiveness against adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein in some esophageal cancers can also be exploited for imaging purposes, since they will take in more trastuzumab than normal tissues. Using this knowledge, researchers are investigating whether linking trastuzumab to imaging agent 64Cu-DOTA results in better visualization of tumors in a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
  • Following surgery to treat esophageal cancer, some patients may have trouble eating, drinking and maintaining a healthy body weight — all of which can lead to poorer outcomes and quality of life. To address this, City of Hope’s Division of Nursing Research is currently conducting an assessment study of patients’ dietary habits and problems following esophageal surgery. The research team will then use the results to develop a supportive care program to help patients adjust to new eating patterns after surgery.