A team of UNM researchers is trying to reduce inflammation in the stomach that can later lead to stomach cancer.

The research team at the School of Medicine is studying a common germ that can lead to ulcers, according to a UNM press release.

According to the release, Ellen Beswick, associate professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, said she believed,  based on previous scientific studies, that there is up to a six-times greater association between this type of bacterium – Helicobacter pylori – and gastric cancer. 

H. pylori infection activates a protein known as MK2 that appears to be at the core of damaging inflammation and the development of tumors,” the release quoted Beswick as saying.

Through experimentation, the team managed to successfully obstruct “this activation process and observed a significant reduction in inflammation with no tumor formation,” according to the release.

"A link between chronic inflammation and tumor development and growth has been established," Beswick said. "However, specific pathways that can be targeted as new treatment approaches are needed. My goal is to find critical pathways, such as MK2, that are important in both tumor cells and immune cells in promoting inflammation and tumor growth."

DeGregorio Family Foundation is funding the study via a $215,000 grant, according to the release.