Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Clinical Trials and Research

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As a medical research institution, UT Southwestern conducts frequent research, including clinical trials, to improve the understanding of and the development of new treatments for colorectal cancer.

Clinical Trials for Colorectal Cancer

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern has been designated by the National Cancer Institute as a site that provides leading-edge treatments and supports important cancer research.

Simmons Cancer Center and its affiliated Parkland Health & Hospital Services offer a wide range of clinical trials (studies involving humans) aimed at improving the outcomes of all patients with colorectal cancer.

Clinical trials are critical to developing new therapies for colorectal cancer. Trial participation is voluntary and often gives patients access to treatments that are not yet widely available – including new drug therapies, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy (which stimulates the immune system), or targeted therapy (which focuses on particular cells). The trials may also offer novel surgical techniques or devices or new radiation therapy regimens.

Learn more about clinical trials.

If you take part in a clinical trial, you will be closely followed by our care team during and after treatment. Patients interested in clinical trials should speak with physicians regarding this option.

Our goal is to make clinical trials more accessible to cancer patients and increase the diversity of patients enrolled in trials.

See our current colorectal cancer trials.

Ongoing Research in Colorectal Cancer

UT Southwestern has many researchers who are investigating colorectal cancer. Just some of the areas they are focused on include:

Inflammation and cancer

Inflammation may contribute to the development and spread of colorectal cancer. Our researchers are studying how ulcerative colitis (inflammation in the colon) can lead to colorectal cancer. Patients with long-term ulcerative colitis can have a three- to fivefold increased risk of cancer. Our investigators have discovered that a hormone of the immune system, called CXCL8, promotes both the initiation and spread of colorectal cancer, including cancer stem cells. These studies are funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Obesity and cancer

Obesity is widely believed to promote the development of colorectal cancer. However, the process behind this is not clear. Our researchers are using human fat cells, tiny organ-like collections of epithelial cells (cells that line the colon), and special technology that identifies genes to study the relationship between obesity and colorectal cancer.

Tissue-engineering models of cancer

Our researchers are collaborating with colleagues across the country to create bioengineered models that mimic colorectal cancer. Examples of these models include organotypic cultures (live cells that are arranged like tissues and function as the tissues do) and “organs on a chip” (a plastic case containing live cells that recreates a biological process). These studies are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Regeneration and cancer

Our investigators have used stem cells to reproduce the tissues of ulcerative colitis, which is a condition in which colon cells are inflamed and can lead to colorectal cancer. This model has the characteristics of ulcerative colitis tissue and may help researchers understand how the tissue’s cells regenerate and become cancerous.