Stomach cancer research at City of Hope

Getting treated for stomach cancer at City of Hope means you are steps away from labs where new treatments for cancer are being developed every day. That proximity means you benefit from something unique in cancer care — bench to bedside treatment. “Bench to bedside” means innovative research we are conducting in our labs is moved quickly to the bedside to treat our patients.

Precision medicine

Cancers are able to survive and thrive because of genetic abnormalities that keep them from being detected and destroyed by the body’s immune system. Research is revealing the specific mutations (problems within the DNA in a cell) causing these abnormalities, and using that information to tailor therapies to specific patients’ tumor cells.

For example, with stomach cancer, recent advances have revealed ways that chromosomes in cells can rearrange — leading to inflammation, and eventually cancer. Other cellular problems may break down the stomach lining, allowing cancer to spread. Precision medicine techniques, such as those being used at City of Hope, are attempts to target those problems within cells, and disrupt the process that leads to cancer.

Clinical trials at City of Hope

  • Radiation therapy that is directly focused on cancerous tumors may make them more hospitable to immune system therapies targeting those same tumors. The theory is that radiation primes the tumor for targeting, while immunotherapy helps to finish the job. A new study will combine radiation therapy with an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab (more commonly used to treat melanoma and nonsmall cell lung cancer) to test whether the combination can work synergistically to fight late stage disease.
  • One way cancer cells survive is by tricking the immune system into not recognizing them. When immune cells conduct their normal checks to determine whether a cell is harmful, cancer cells have ways of evading detection. A new class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies can bind to the surface of cancer cells and make them more visible to the immune system — and do things like block cancer cell growth and blood vessel formation. City of Hope is leading a study examining whether one of those drugs (pembrolizumab) is effective alone, or in combination with other drugs, for fighting advanced stage gastric cancers.
  • Biomarkers are substances that, when found in the body, indicate something is present — like disease. Early studies, using blood samples from patients or samples from extracted tumors, are being used to find biomarkers associated with stomach cancer. The results of these studies may provide insight about how stomach cancer is progressing and/or responding to chemotherapy — and could one day be used as a screening and diagnostic tool.
  • Imaging of gastric cancer using antibody directed positron emission tomography localization of the tumor

Learn more about our research

Stomach cancer is an extremely complex disease that can act many different ways in the body. Research at City of Hope — driven by patient-specific individualized treatment strategies — is focused on those differences, and on designing therapies that affect how stomach cancer develops, progresses and spreads. Click here to learn more about clinical research at City of Hope.