The researchers hope to find a way to diagnose oral cancers in the earliest, more treatable stages, and to eventually halt cancer growth once diagnosed.
For years, researchers thought hBDs were "the good guys" in the mouth, said Weinberg, "but we are finding it isn't always so." The recent discovery by Case Western Reserve dental researcher and additional co-investigator Dr. Ge Jin has shown this not to be the case.
In tissue studies, Jin reported the disappearance of hBD-2, another innate peptide in the mouth's lining that protects against microbial challenges, and the proliferation of hBD-3 in cancerous tissues.
The finding led the dental researchers to hypothesize that an abundance of hBD-3 in saliva and tissue might be a way to diagnose oral cancers.
"Our team recently found that the HPV type most implicated in head and neck cancer promotes hBD-3 overexpression," Weinberg said.
Zender, a head and neck surgeon who treats benign and cancerous lesions of the mouth and throat, heard about Weinberg's interest in studying the hBD-3 connection to cancer. The collaboration was forged during a meeting between Weinberg and Cliff Megerian, the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology.
Their study includes several components:
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University