Oral & Salivary Cancer Biology Program

Oral and Salivary Cancer Biology Program

The NIDCR Oral and Salivary Cancer Biology Program supports research activities that improve early detection and treatment of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and salivary glands.  Basic science research will provide insights into the control of regulatory pathways involved in normal head and neck epithelial physiology and its transformation into primary and metastatic tumors.   Translational science activities will develop novel technologies and therapeutics for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of cancers based on rational pre-clinical investigation.  Areas of interest include but not limited to:

Cancer Pathobiology

  • Maintenance of epithelial cell homeostasis and cancer susceptibility
  • Genetic and epigenetic alterations and dysregulation of signaling pathways critical for cancer development and progression.
  • Genomic instability and related molecular, cytogenetic, and chromosomal effects during induction and progression to malignancy
  • Premalignant conditions of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
  • Identification and characterization of cancer stem cells
  • Interplay of cancer stem cells and tumor environment in tumor heterogeneity
  • Molecular pathways of tumor dormancy, growth, recurrence, and metastasis
  • Signal transduction pathways involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer invasion and metastasis
  • Molecular interplay between squamous epithelial cells and tumor microenvironment in promoting cell survival, proliferation, vascularization, invasion, and metastasis
  • Effects of hypoxia and metabolic adaptation on tumor cell survival, progression, and metastasis
  • Molecular events underlying viral or xenobiotic agent-induced epithelial cell dysregulation
  • Biological agents, host factors, and behaviors in the development of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
  • Mechanisms by which chemo- and/or radio-therapeutic agents affect the integrity of the oral epithelial lining

Cancer Immunology

  • Role of immune regulation on the development and spread of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland malignancies
  • Role of inflammation in tumor initiation and progression
  • Role of antibody- and cell-mediated immune responses
  • Mechanisms of immune evasion
  • Determinants of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland tumor immunogenicity
  • Identification and characterization of targetable tumor-specific or-associated antigens for immunotherapy

Cancer Biomarkers

  • Diagnostic biomarkers that detect aggressive cancer at the early stage
  • Pharmacodynamics biomarkers that signal the treatment outcome and identify targets interaction
  • Prognostic biomarkers that provide reliable assessment of disease progression
  • Predictive biomarkers that predict how an individual will respond to the specific treatment
  • Integrated and comparative analysis of HPV-positive and HPV-negative Oral, Head and Neck cancer
  • Imaging for real-time cancer detection and tumor margin assessment to guide biopsy and surgery
  • Imaging surrogates of tumor response to therapy
  • Integration of molecular biomarkers and imaging to differentiate premalignant and malignant lesions

Experimental Cancer Treatment

  • Combining immunotherapy and targeted therapies for treating oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
  • Therapeutic antibodies and cancer treatment vaccines development
  • Gene- and stem-cell based therapies for treating oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
  • Treatment strategies for oral complications associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Development of minimally invasive methods for the removal of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
  • Pre-clinical oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancer models that accurately predict therapeutic response in human
  • Applications of nanoparticles for diagnosis and therapy of oral, pharyngeal and salivary gland cancers
Last Reviewed
July 2018