Barrett's Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNet)

BETRNet, a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration co-sponsored by NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention and Division of Cancer Biology, was established to centralize and enhance efforts to understand Barrett's esophagus (BE) and to prevent esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA).

BE is the only known pre-cursor lesion to EA, a cancer with the fastest growing incidence rate in the United States, and a low (15%) overall 5-year survival rate. Because malignant progression in BE is thought to be similar to that of other solid tumors, scientific advances in BE research may provide insights for other pre-cancers as well.

BETRNet aims to speed the translation of important research findings from laboratory and clinical studies into useful medical applications. This includes validated diagnostics, improved patient management, cancer risk stratification and prediction, prevention strategies, and accurate criteria for BE screening and endoscopic surveillance.

The network has three Translational Research Centers and a Coordinating Center:

  1. BETRNet Research Center based at Columbia University, University of Washington and Mayo Clinic involves highly experienced basic scientists, clinical researchers, pathologists, biostatisticians and bioinformatics specialists; includes the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan; and is primarily focused on stem cells and the origins of BE.

  2. BETRNet Research Center based at University of Michigan, University of Washington and Mayo Clinic is focused on multi-spectral, targeted molecular imaging for early detection and prevention of cancer in BE patients. Inter-related projects concentrate on genomics, molecular probes and imaging instrumentation, including development of enabling technology to help physicians guide tissue biopsy of at-risk esophageal mucosa (high-grade dysplasia and early adenocarcinoma), and a research validation tool to visualize biomarkers of cancer risk over time in BE patients.

  3. BETRNet Research Center based at Case Western Reserve University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of North Carolina is studying genetic determinants of BE and EA, and the role of environmental factors in their development and progression. Other participating institutions are the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, Washington University, and Mayo Clinic.

The Vanderbilt-lngram Cancer Center BETRNet Coordinating Center facilitates network harmonization, data management and bioinformatics, a patient registry and virtual biorepository, and network evaluations.