COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers have discovered a new mechanism by which the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes head and neck cancer, and they have designed a drug to block that mechanism. Though further research is needed, the new agent might offer a safer treatment for these tumors when combined with a tapered dose of standard chemotherapy.
HPV-positive head and neck cancer has become three times more common since the 1970s, and it could reach epidemic levels in the future, say researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC James) who led the study.
"We believe these findings will help meet the real need for more effective and safer therapy for a growing number of HPV-positive head and neck cancer patients," says principal investigator Dr. Quintin Pan, associate professor of otolaryngology at the OSUCCC James.
The study was published in the journal Oncogene.
The research, which mainly used head and neck cancer cells, shows that a protein produced by the virus blocks a protein made by the host cell. The cell protein, called p300, regulates a gene called p53. This gene both controls cell division and protects the body against cancer by causing cells to die before they become malignant.
By blocking the cell protein, HPV forces the host cell to live instead of die and to proliferate and form tumors.
The prospective new drug, called CH1iB, prevents the viral protein from binding with the cell protein. This restores
|Contact: Darrell E. Ward|
Ohio State University Medical Center