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Head and Neck Cancer

The Exome Factor
(October 2011)
Jeffrey Myers, M.D., Ph.D.In the August 26 issue of the journal Science, a team of NIDCR-supported scientists provides one of the most comprehensive analyses yet of the genetic landscape that underlies head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, or HNSCC, the most common form of head and neck cancer.  The data help to pin down that HNSCC, although spoken in the singular, is actually plural.  The condition represents dozens of molecular conditions, each driven by a unique acquired pattern of cancer-causing gene alterations.  Interestingly, a companion study, also published in the August 26 issue of Science and partially NIH funded, reported similar results in HNSCC.  Taken together, the results suggest that the reclassification of these tumors based on their molecular characteristics is starting to come into technological reach as a key first step in establishing personalized medicine.   more.....

TP53 and the Prognosis of Head and Neck Cancer

(January 2008)
Wayne Koch, M.D.In the December 20, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of NIDCR grantees and colleagues evaluated the prognostic value of TP53 mutations in 420 head-and-neck cancer patients treated with surgery only and whose survival was tracked for several years thereafter.  Detecting TP53 alterations in the tumors of 53 percent of participants, the scientists found that collectively these mutations were associated with decreased overall survival.  This was particularly so for a subset of TP53 mutations that affected the ability of its protein to function as a transcription factor.   To hear more about this paper, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Wayne Koch, the senior author on the paper and a scientist and head-and-neck cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  more...

Scientists Elucidate Function of Novel Protein Involved in Head and Neck Cancer
(September 2007)
Wendell Yarbrough, M.D.In the September issue of the journal Cancer Cell, a team of NIDCR-supported scientists and their colleagues report on a novel protein called LZAP.  Discovered by the group in 2005, LZAP appears to be a new growth-inhibiting tumor suppressor gene.  In the latest paper, the scientists show that LZAP has biological activity that relates to tumor suppression, they define a biological function in the nucleus that correlates with that activity, and they move into clinical tumor samples to show that LZAP is frequently inactivated in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck.   more... 


A Closer Look at Developing a Lab on a Chip for Oral Cancer
(August 2007)
John McDevitt, Ph.D.Dr. John McDevitt, a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of several NIDCR grantees currently developing a first generation of miniaturized, fully automated saliva-based diagnostic devices.  As part of the NIDCR grant, the McDevitt laboratory published in the August issue of the journal Lab on a Chip the results of proof-of-principle experiments for a rapid chip-based diagnostic test for oral cancer.  McDevitt spoke to the Inside Scoop about the device, its status, and future prospects.    more...

Study May Help Head and Neck Cancer Patients Find Relief From Dry Mouth
(March 2007)
Bruce Baum, DMD, PhDBy the late 1980s, NIDCR scientist Dr. Bruce Baum was frustrated. He had been searching for new drugs and other treatments that might help restore adequate salivary flow in people whose salivary glands had been damaged by radiation treatment for cancer. Yet, despite all of his hard work, Baum said he had not come close to solving the problem.  That's when he decided to turn to gene transfer, sometimes called gene therapy.  If a fluid-transporting gene could be transferred into the damaged glands, he could potentially restore some degree of salivary flow and secretion into the mouth.  more...

Bringing the Promise of Molecular Medicine to Oral Cancer Screening
(March 2006)
Miriam Rosin, Ph.D.In 2005, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 29,370 new cases of oral and pharyngeal cancer were diagnosed, while an estimated 7,320 Americans died from these diseases. Recently, the Inside Scoop spoke with NIDCR grantee Dr. Miriam Rosin, a senior staff scientist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada.  She and her colleagues in British Columbia are now developing a novel, province-wide oral cancer screening program that integrates for the first time telltale molecular features of a developing tumor with more traditional cancer screening tools.  This project offers a glimpse of the much-touted promise of molecular medicine and serves as a template for future molecular-based cancer screening programs elsewhere in the world, including the United States. more... 


Looking to the Future: Systems Biology
(March 2005)
J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D.Over the past decade, researchers have reported tremendous progress in studying head and neck cancer, an umbrella term for tumors of the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, and salivary glands.  Recently, the Inside Scoop sat down with J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D., an NIDCR scientist and prominent figure in head and neck cancer research, to discuss systems biology and its likely impact on the field.  more... 

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014