Project title: Epigenetic regulation of tumor metastasis in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs)

Elham Barazeghi, PhD Uppsala University

Elham Barazeghi, PhD
  • Status: Active
  • Year(s): 2023
  • Grant Type: Mentored
  • Research Type: Basic
  • Primary Tumor Site: Gastrointestinal

Project Description:

In this research project, Dr. Barazeghi will use advanced sequencing technologies in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) to investigate the driver epigenetic mechanisms that occur in a primary tumor to make it metastatic. This knowledge will advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying metastasis with the ultimate goal of improving prognostic factors for SI-NET metastasis and informing strategies to prevent metastases.

What critical NET problem will you try to solve through your research?

The key molecular mechanisms that contribute to metastatic progression in SI-NETs are not yet fully understood. Since these tumors are highly epigenetically dysregulated but have fewer genetic mutations, it is important to investigate epigenetic aberrations in multiple tumors from the same patient to identify specific genes and regulatory elements responsible for metastasis. 

Why is this important?

Most patients with SI-NETs already have distant metastases when diagnosed. This research project is focused on uncovering the reversible epigenetic changes that may be the key regulators of metastasis. This information could lead to the development of targeted therapies and improved predictions for SI-NET metastasis. 

What will you do as part of this research project?

In this project, Dr. Barazeghi and her team will combine a unique tumor biobank and advanced technologies, such as assays for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing (ATAC-seq), to identify specific epigenetic targets associated with metastasis in SI-NETs. These potential targets will then be evaluated experimentally to discover new ways to treat and predict the spread of SI-NETs. 

How might your research improve the diagnosis and/or treatment of NETs? 

Identifying risk factors and biomarkers linked to metastatic potential may contribute to the development of preventive measures and screening tools for earlier detection and treatment of metastasis in SI-NETs. This knowledge could personalize treatment plans based on individual metastatic profiles, enhancing the chances of successful outcomes.

What is your next step?

The first step is to gain new knowledge about the underlying epigenetic events, regulatory elements, and specific genes involved in the metastatic progression of SI-NETs. As a next step, our specific findings will be further evaluated using a large independent validation cohort and other preclinical models to develop new strategies for impeding metastasis and for improving prognostic biomarkers.

Additional Details

  • City: Uppsala
  • Country: Sweden
  • Grant Duration: 2
  • Sponsor: The Carol DeBacker Charitable Trust


NETRF funds laboratory research to understand the development of neuroendocrine tumors and translational research to explore new concepts in treatment. Research grant descriptions and research updates from NETRF are not intended to serve as medical advice. It can take years for research discoveries to be fully validated and approved for patient care. Always consult your health care providers about your treatment options.

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