Current Research

Role of Tumor Sub-clones in Tumor Metastasis

Over the last 10 years, cancer genetics researchers have utilized increasingly complex and in-depth tools to understand that essentially all adult human cancers are not each uniform but are instead heterogeneous and are made up of multiple, constantly evolving sub-clones. The significance of these is not clear. Dr. Karin Hardiman and her team have previously shown that they exist in rectal cancer. They next studied metastatic colon cancer lymph nodes and found that they are each unique in their sub-clonal composition and made up of multiple sub-clones. Most recently, they found that in locally advanced rectal cancer treated with chemotherapy and radiation, some sub-clones are sensitive and others resistant to treatment. Future studies will focus on better understanding the role of tumor sub-clones specifically.

Therapeutic Resistance in Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer related death and thus new therapies for treatment are badly needed. Hardiman has worked with others using both polyposis and xenograft models to test new therapies.

The Hardiman Lab has created several mouse models of colorectal cancer and are testing multiple potential treatment regimens. In addition, she continues to study the role of tumor sub-clones in therapeutic resistance and has found in rectal cancer that some sub-clones are sensitive and others resistant to treatment.

Multidisciplinary and Survivorship Care in Colorectal Cancer

Outcomes for colorectal cancer treatment and are variable. Hardiman has worked with others to study disparities in treatment for sub-groups of colorectal cancer patients. In addition, she has personally performed quality improvement to change outcome for our colorectal surgery patients. Hardiman worked with our colorectal surgery team to create and implement a patient autonomy-centered self-care checklist which reduces hospital readmissions. Additionally, she surveyed colorectal cancer survivors and found high levels of unmet needs in these patients. Follow-up studies are planned to develop interventions for these patients.