ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS

Drew Laboratory Projects

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ASPIRIN PRECISION PREVENTION

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) has become one of the most commonly used drugs and is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. However, given the known hazards of long-term aspirin use, larger-scale adoption of an aspirin chemoprevention strategy is likely to require improved identification of individuals for whom the protective benefits outweigh the harms. Under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew T. Chan, we are using novel translational patient-derived models to understand the mechanisms by which aspirin prevents colorectal cancer and discover mechanistically-informed biomarkers for precision prevention strategies.

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ROLE OF THE GUT MICROBIOME IN DEVELOPMENT AND TREATMENT OF CHECKPOINT-INHIBITOR COLITIS

Emerging evidence supports that ‘favorable’ gut microbiomes, or those microbial features associated with immunotherapy response or those that potentiate anti-tumor effects, are co-correlated with increased local and systemic inflammation. Consequently, this ‘good’ inflammation may increase the risk for intestinal inflammation and development of 'checkpoint colitis'. Moving forward, it will be critical to distinguish between commensal bacteria that improve therapy response and those that disproportionately increase risk for toxicities to maximize therapeutic benefit. To rapidly gain insight into the impact of immune checkpoint inhibition on the gut microbiome throughout the treatment course leading up to toxicity incidence and during toxicity management, we are leveraging several existing phase II/III trials of immunotherapy for treatment of gastrointestinal cancers to prospectively collect stool specimens among cohorts of patients. Project supported by the American Gastroenterological Association Elsevier Pilot Award.

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COVID-19 REAL-TIME EPIDEMIOLOGY

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CTEU launched the COronavirus Pandemic Epidemiology (COPE) Consortium to bring together experts in epidemiology and launch a COVID Symptom Tracker mobile application (Developed by Zoe Global Ltd. in collaboration with MGH and King's College of London) to advance our real-time surveillance of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19). 

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GI CANCER SCREENING, EARLY DETECTION AND INTERCEPTION

The MGH CTEU Biobank is serving as the central repository for the SU2C Gastric Cancer Early Detection and Interception Team and supporting the SU2C Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team. We are proud to be a part of these international, multidisciplinary collaborative to improve early detection and interception of intestinal and diffuse gastric cancer and improve health equity for CRC screening. Our methods in the lab focus on detecting novel circulating and stool based biomarkers for early detection of cancers and precancers and developing novel molecular based imaging approaches for identification and interception of hard to detect gastrointestinal cancers.

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THE PREDICT STUDIES FOR PRECISION NUTRITION

Our group and the CTEU Biobank has continued to support the PREDICT family of studies which aims to understand individualized responses to food and why "one-size-fits-all" approaches have had limited success for dietary interventions towards improving health. For more detailed information regarding the studies or to learn how you might get involved click here

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NUTRITION FOR PRECISION HEALTH, POWERED BY THE ALL OF US RESEARCH PROGRAM

Dr. Drew is serving as an early career investigator member of the Clinical Center for NIH's Nutrition for Precision Health: The All of Us New England Research Collaborative. This ambitious effort sponsored by the NIH Common Fund aims to improve our understanding of how individual human biology and molecular pathways influence relationships among diet and environmental, social, and behavioral factors to influence health. Through implementation of three clinical trial modules this is destined to be the largest precision nutrition study ever embarked upon by the NIH.