New diagnostic advance seen for head, throat cancer

April 28, 2009
The figure in "A" shows a very low level of CTIP2 expression in normal human epithelia, while "B" shows a significant increase in expression in aggressive head and neck cancer

Pharmacy researchers at Oregon State University today announced the discovery of a genetic regulator that is expressed at higher levels in the most aggressive types of head and neck cancers, in work that may help to identify them earlier or even offer a new therapy at some point in the future.

This "transcriptional regulator" is called CTIP2, and in recent research has been demonstrated to be a master regulator that has important roles in many biological functions, ranging from the proper development of enamel on teeth to skin formation and the possible treatment of or psoriasis.

In the newest study, published today in , a professional journal, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the "poorly differentiated" that caused the most deadly types of squamous cell carcinomas in the larynx, throat, tongue and other parts of the head. There was a high correlation between greater CTIP2 expression and the aggressive nature of the .

Head and neck squamous cell cancers are the sixth most common cancers in the world, the researchers said in their study, and a significant cause of mortality. In 2008, cancers of the and pharynx alone accounted for 35,310 new cases in the United States and 7,590 deaths. They have been linked to such things as and .

"Serious head and throat cancer is pretty common, and mortality rates from it haven't improved much in 20 years, despite new types of treatments," said Gitali Indra, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "With these new findings, we believe it should be possible to create an early screening and diagnostic tool to spot these cancers earlier, tell physicians which ones need the most aggressive treatments and which are most apt to recur."

It's also possible the work may lead to new therapeutic approaches, researchers say.

"It's not completely clear yet whether the higher levels of CTIP2 expression are a consequence of cancer, or part of the cause," said Arup Indra, also an OSU assistant professor of pharmacy. "However, we strongly suspect that it's causally related. If that's true, then therapies that could block production of CTIP2 may provide a new therapeutic approach to this type of cancer."

That this genetic regulator could be involved in both skin development and these types of cancer makes some sense, the scientists said - both originate from epithelial cells.

It's also possible, the study found, that CTIP2 works to help regulate the growth of what is believed to be a cancer "stem" or "progenitor" cell, which has a greater potential to generate tumors through the stem cell processes of self-renewal and differentiation into multiple cell types. Therefore, targeting cancer stem cells holds promise for improvement of survival and quality of life of cancer patients.

More information: www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/arti … r.fcgi?artid=2671404

Source: Oregon State University (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.