Department of Surgery

Gastroenterological Surgery

Characterizing cancer for future treatment and control
  • Understanding cancer resistance
  • Bridging cancer diagnosis and delivery strategies for clinical use
Professor Masaki Mori
Gastroenterological Surgery
The Laboratory of Gastroenterological Surgery was established more than 130 years ago in 1881. Professors Masaki Mori and and Yuuichiro Doki head the lab, which focuses on characterizing cancer stem cells in order to find new approaches to overcome cancer drug resistance.

Comprehensive research and development on gastrointestinal cancer aiming for clinical application

The Gastroenterological Surgery Laboratory is in charge of surgical cancer removal from patients and is one of the top groups in the world conducting cancer stem cell research. Our research also includes autophagy, long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), elucidating and overcoming cancer treatment resistance, and cancer recurrence.

It is known that lncRNA play a role in the epigenetic regulation of the invasion and metastasis of cancer. Thus, the lab is trying to identify lncRNA involved in cancer metastasis by examining lncRNA expression profiles induced by hypoxia and cancer-specific signaling in cancer microenvironments.

Surgery is able to cure some patients, while others have a recurrence of cancer and are treated with anticancer drugs. The greatest challenge to overcome is the low treatment efficacy owing to resistance. Through its research, the lab has revealed that cancer stem cells acquire resistance to anticancer drugs and radiation through a metabolic pathway involving reactive oxygen species. As a result, therapeutic molecules have been identified. Preparations for clinical trials to target cancer stem cells as a comprehensive treatment are ongoing.

As a clinical laboratory, basic scientific findings are being translated to clinical applications. OSNA (One-Step Nucleic acid Amplification) is a method that makes it possible to detect microcancers in lymph nodes quickly and distinguish non-blood cancer cells. It is being used for conducting research on postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy and indications for lateral lymph node dissection of rectal cancer.

In addition, novel nucleic acid therapy for colorectal cancers with mutations in the KRAS gene are being developed based on small metabolite (oncometabolite) analysis from clinical specimens. In order to deliver nucleic acid therapeutics with high selectivity for cancer cells and minimal side effects, a drug delivery system (DDS) based on nanoparticles is also being developed.