Head and Neck Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Improvement of Quality of Life.
This project focuses on three aspects of the disease:
In collaboration with Dr. Allen Tsang’s group (Molecular Medicine, Wake Forest) we are investigating the contribution of sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia and HPV to HNC development.
We are interested in understanding the molecular basis of resistance to radiation treatment; discovery of new radiation sensitizers; and, discovery of synthetically lethal therapeutic targets.
Quality of Life
In collaboration with Dr. Marcelo Bonomi (Hem/Onc, Wake Forest) we are exploring the use of JAK/STAT inhibitors in treatment of oral mucositis, a side effect of chemoradiotherapy in HNC.
All projects, but in particular the treatment project, are aided by our clinical and computational collaborators Dr. Mercedes Porosnicu (Hem/Onc, Wake Forest) and Dr. Xiaobo Zhou (Radiology, Wake Forest), respectively. Together we employ the most current advancements in technologies and biomedical informatics to derive new hypotheses and improve the care for HNC patients.
What distinguishes our conceptual strategy from others is the effort to account for redox effects in HNC. Using chemical probes for protein -SOH developed by our group, we discovered clear differences in the sulfenic acid content of tumors that responded to radiation treatment and those that were resistant to treatment. Thus our current research goal is to define redox-dependent and -independent radiation response signature(s) (RRS) in HNC. We hypothesize that the RRS approach will identify pathways that tumors rely on for survival and growth, which will be consistent with radiation susceptibility phenotype. Studies for this project are performed using matched models of response to radiation treatment and clinical specimens from consented HNC patients undergoing radiation treatment at Wake Forest. The data are combined with those from existing cancer databases such as the TCGA and others to derive new hypotheses, test, and validate findings that we hope would ultimately lead to better therapies for HNC patients.