AUGUSTA, Ga. The presence of certain proteins in premalignant oral lesions may predict oral cancer development, Medical College of Georgia researchers said.
SIBLINGs, or Small Integrin-Binding Ligand N-linked Glycoproteins, are a family of five proteins that help mineralize bone but can also spread cancer. SIBLINGs have been found in cancers including breast, lung, colon and prostate.
"Several years ago we discovered that three SIBLINGsosteopontin, bone sialoprotein and dentin sialophosphoproteinwere expressed at significantly high levels in oral cancers," said Dr. Kalu Ogbureke, an oral and maxillofacial pathologist in the MCG School of Dentistry. "Following that discovery, we began to research the potential role of SIBLINGs in oral lesions before they become invasive cancers."
The study, published online this week in the journal Cancer, examined 60 archived surgical biopsies of precancerous lesions sent to MCG for diagnosis and the patients' subsequent health information. Eighty-seven percent of the biopsies were positive for at least one SIBLING proteinwhich the researchers discovered can be good or bad, depending on the protein. For instance, they found that the protein, dentin sialophosphoprotein, increases oral cancer risk fourfold, while bone sialoprotein significantly decreases the risk.
"The proteins could be used as biomarkers to predict [the potential of a lesion to become cancerous]," said Dr. Ogbureke, the study's lead author. "That is very significant, because we would then be in a position to modify treatment for the individual patient's need in the near future."
Precancerous oral lesions, which can develop in the cheek, tongue, gums and floor and roof of the mouth, are risk factors for oral squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for over 95 percent of all oral and pharyngeal cancers. Oral cancer, the sixth most common cancer in the world, kills about 8,000 Americans annually, Dr. Ogbureke s
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Medical College of Georgia