MSK Research Highlights, May 24, 2024

An MSK scientist peers through a microscope

New research from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) investigates a promising approach against diabetic retinopathy and finds patients with early-onset colorectal cancer likely don’t need more frequent surveillance colonoscopies.

Anti-ceramide immunotherapy promising against diabetic retinopathy, animal studies suggest

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects blood vessels in people with diabetes and can cause blindness. Now a new study from a team at MSK, Michigan State University, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center shows that diabetic retinopathy can be considered a “ceramidopathy” — which can be reversed with anti-ceramide immunotherapy. The group — overseen by Richard Kolesnick, MD, of the Sloan Kettering Institute, and Julia Busik, PhD, of the University of Oklahoma — found that in patients with advanced diabetic retinopathy, there is an imbalance of ceramides in the eye. Too much of these lipids leads to inflammation and cell death in the blood vessels of the eye. Moreover, the researchers showed in animal models that antibodies that act against ceramides can protect against diabetic retinopathy. Their findings suggest that targeting ceramides could be a potential treatment for diabetic retinopathy, both in the disease’s early stages to prevent progression and in more advanced stages. Read more in Cell Metabolism.

Early-onset colorectal cancer patients likely don’t need more frequent surveillance colonoscopies

A new study led by MSK gastroenterologist Robin Mendelsohn, MD, suggests that early-onset colorectal patients, who are diagnosed before age 50, do not require more frequent surveillance colonoscopies compared with older average-onset colorectal patients. The study included 612 early-onset patients and 647 average-onset patients, and found the younger group had a 29% lower risk of developing advanced neoplasms from the time of initial surgery to first surveillance colonoscopy — which was 12.6 months for both cohorts. Subsequent colonoscopies also showed a lower risk.

This study is believed to be the largest of its kind for early-onset patients, for whom there currently aren’t colonoscopy guidelines. The results support the idea that young patients can follow the same surveillance guidelines as older patients.  “The incidence of early onset colorectal cancer is rising,” Dr. Mendelsohn notes. “This study suggests this younger patient group does not need more aggressive surveillance, which would benefit them by reducing costs and disruptions to life and the risks posed by unneeded exams.” Read more in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology