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Augusta VA receives $1.2 million for colorectal research

Dr. Kebin Liu in the lab
Dr. Kebin Liu, Augusta VA Health Care System researcher and professor at Augusta University, was recently awarded $1.2 million to extend his research in molecular mechanism-based therapy to suppress colon cancer progression until 2026.

Out of the 9 million Veterans in the United States, one million aged 50 and older will develop colorectal cancer over the remainder of their lives and nearly 433,000 Veterans will die from it. But one VA research team is working hard to change those numbers.

Dr. Liu Kebin, a research biologist with the Augusta VA Health Care System in Georgia, was recently awarded $1.2 million to further his colon cancer immunology research for four more years.

The VA Office of Research and Development awarded the funds to Kebin to continue this Veteran-centric research detecting tumor cells and immune cell interaction in human colon cancer.

Nationally, the 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer among Veterans is about 40 percent while the general population’s survival rate is around 60 percent. But Kebin’s research might help advance more effective therapies in battling the disease.

“My research team and I are exploring ways to develop more effective and safe Type I IFN therapies for human cancer treatment,” Liu said.

Type I interferons (Type I IFNs) are small proteins secreted from human cells. They “interfere” with an invader in our body, such as a virus, and are our first line of defense. Scientists are taking notice.

 “The success of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine used lipid nanoparticles to deliver biologic materials to the human cells to treat the virus,” said Liu. “Our research uses lipid nanoparticles to deliver DNA to tumor cells to suppress cancer.”

The research is complex, but the mission is simple: enhance the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.

“The research team hopes the lipid nanoparticle IFN treatment can one day be used to treat patients with colorectal cancer,” Liu said.

For a more in-depth look at Liu’s research, visit: https://reporter.nih.gov/project-details/9663169

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