CLEVELAND - Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Department of Otolaryngology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center will collaborate on a pilot study to examine whether an abundance of naturally occurring antibacterial proteins in the mouth can predict the development of oral cancers.
The researchers will investigate how high levels of human beta-defensin-3 (hBD-3) in saliva and pre-cancerous tissues can be used to detect oral cancers faster and less invasively than traditional methods, said Aaron Weinberg, DMD, PhD, associate dean and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the dental school. They have found elevated levels of this protein in precancerous lesions and some oral cancers and it may provide early identification of these frequently asymptomatic cancers.
The hBD-3 peptide, which is found in the epithelial lining of the mouth, acts as a natural antibiotic in the body's immune system. HBD-3 prevents the estimated 700 species of bacteria as well as viruses and fungi that live in the mouth from invading the body and causing disease.
The researchers will recruit 60 participants, seeking treatment at UH Case Medical Center for possible oral cancers. They are also interested in patients with human papilloma virus (HPV), as this virus is increasingly correlated with increased incidence of head and neck cancer.
The researchers have found that hBD3 is overexpressed in the early stage of HPV and non-HPV related head and neck cancers. Dr. Weinberg's lab has developed an assay to measure hBD-3 levels in saliva, serum and tissue samples.
Weinberg, the study's lead investigator, will work with co-investigator Chad Zender, MD, FACS, from University Hospitals Case Medical Center's ENT Institute, to elucidate the role of hBD-3 in the development of HPV and non-HPV associated head and neck cancer.
"HBD3 has great potential as an important biomarker for cancerous l
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Case Western Reserve University