CORVALLIS, Ore. 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 eczema or psoriasis.
In the newest study, published today in PLoS ONE, a professional journal, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the "poorly differentiated" tumor cells 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 cancer.
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 oral cavity 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 tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
"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
|Contact: Gitali Indra|
Oregon State University