Professor awarded $1.8 million grant for anal cancer research

A professor in the Milken Institute School of Public Health received a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute to find a more effective approach to anal cancer screening, according to a University release.

Jeanne Jordan, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, said that she and her research team plan to combine biomarkers with the anal Pap test to improve screening and allow physicians to better predict when patients would need to get a biopsy. The five-year study will analyze samples from 250 men living with HIV who are treated by Stephen Abbott, a physician at Whitman-Walker in D.C., Jordan said.

“The goal of this grant was to design experiments that will hopefully lead us to identifying a more specific companion diagnostic to the anal Pap test,” she said in the release.

Jordan said developing this test will prevent men from getting more invasive testing, like biopsies, if unnecessary and easily identify those who need additional testing.

Current testing looks for abnormal changes in cells and can be more accurate in identifying HPV rather than anal cancer, according to the release. This new method will look at both HPV genes and changes in the HPV genome that can trigger cell growth and anal cancer.

Men who tested positive with this combination would be considered at higher risk for developing anal cancer and then only that group would then go on to have a biopsy, according to the release.

The researchers on the project said that they plan for the combination screening test to be more accurate than the current method.

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