Genetic marker may ID head, throat cancer


CORVALLIS, Ore. (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have discovered a genetic regulator that might help lead physicians to an earlier diagnosis of head and neck cancers.

Pharmacy researchers at Oregon State University said the genetic regulator is expressed at higher levels in the most aggressive types of head and neck cancers and might even offer a new therapy at some point in the future.

The “transcriptional regulator” is called CTIP2, and in recent research it’s been demonstrated to be a master regulator that has important roles in many biological functions. But in the study, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the “poorly differentiated” tumor cells that cause the most deadly types of squamous cell carcinomas in the larynx, throat, tongue and other parts of the head. They discovered a high correlation between greater CTIP2 expression and the aggressive nature of the cancer.

“Serious head and throat cancer is pretty common, and mortality rates from it haven’t improved much in 20 years, despite new types of treatments,” said Assistant Professor Gitali Indra. “With these new findings, we believe it should be possible to create an early screening and diagnostic tool to spot these cancers earlier, tell physicians which ones need the most aggressive treatments and which are most apt to recur.”

The study appears in the online journal PLoS One.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th May 2009

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