The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has approved a grant of Rs 21.5 million for a research project of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on early-stage screening of patients with colorectal cancer.
The principal investigator of the research is the Immunology department’s head, Dr Shah Jahan. This is the sixth research funding won by the stalwart researcher. The title of the research project is “Fecal microbiota profiling and molecular biomarkers for colorectal cancer screening at an early stage: A way towards the non-invasive, cost-effective, and accurate CRC screening assay for local patients”.
The funding has been approved under the Local Challenge Fund initiative of the HEC with the support of the World Bank. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a common gastrointestinal tumor, affecting 1.36 million people with about 65000 deaths per year worldwide and ranked as the fourth leading cause of death in Pakistan. From benign to malignant, it follows a long stepwise progression.
CRC remains asymptomatic in the early stage and spreads sporadically in most cases. Environmental factors play a leading role in the sporadic spread. The death rate can be reduced significantly if detected early. Diagnosis by colonoscopy method is invasive, labor-intensive, and not widely acceptable in the community. Available non-invasive methods are still expensive, less accurate, and may lead to a poor prognosis. To improve the CRC screening accuracy and acceptability, a cost-effective, non-invasive screening test is a research challenge addressed in this research project.
In this regard, Dr Shah Jahan has said the project will also help in building the research capacity of the department by adding new diagnostic, molecular, and computational facilities. UHS Vice-Chancellor Professor Javed Akram has commended the efforts of Dr Shah Jahan while wishing him success in the project.