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Oral Cancer

Cancers of the head and neck too often fall in between the cracks of medicine and dentistry, resulting in late diagnosis that brings poor prognosis and disfiguring treatments. There is no more important development in early detection and improved survival of oral cancer than an inexpensive non-invasive test that could be part of routine checkups and is simple enough to be performed at health fairs and safety net clinics by a variety of health care professionals and auxiliaries. MicroRNA (miRNA) holds the key to the development of such a test. MiRNAs are a new class of molecule, approximately 20-23 nucleotides in length, which are encoded in the genome and function in the regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. They act as molecular “rheostats” to make fine-tuning adjustments to protein output. A single change in a miRNA can affect hundreds, or even thousands, of protein expressions. Thus, changes in miRNA profiles appear to play important roles in cell growth and differentiation, as well as in disease states such as cancer. The current project focuses on obtaining profiles of miRNA expression in oral cancer to identify important changes that are relevant to one or more subtypes of oral cancer, as well as elucidating salivary miRNA biomarkers for early oral cancer detection.

This work is supported in part by a Student Fellowship from the Andrew J. Semesco Foundation, Ocala, FL.

Current Project Members

Collaborators

  • Jin Q. Cheng, Ph.D., M.D., Dept. of Oncologic Sciences, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL
  • Rushi S. Patel, D.D.S., Ph.D., Dept. of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, UF College of Dentistry, Gainesville, FL

Key Publications

2013

Jung, H.M., Patel, R.S., Phillips, B.L., Wang, H., Cohen, D.M., Reinhold, W.C., Chang, L.J., Yang, L.J., and Chan, E.K. Tumor suppressor miR-375 regulates MYC expression via repression of CIP2A coding sequence through multiple miRNA-mRNA interaction. Mol Biol Cell. 24:1638-48.

2012

Jung, H.M., Phillips, B.L., Patel, R.S., Cohen, D.M., Jakymiw, A., Kong, W.W., Cheng, J.Q., and Chan, E.K. Keratinization-associated miR-7 and miR-21 regulate tumor suppressor reversion-inducing-cysteine-rich protein with kazal motifs (RECK) in oral cancer. J Biol Chem. 287:29261-72.

2011

Patel, R.S., Jakymiw, A., Yao, B., Pauley, B.A., Carcamo, W.C., Katz, J., Cheng, J.Q., and Chan, E.K. High resolution of microRNA signatures in human whole saliva. Arch. Oral Biol., 56:1506-13.