Discovery by UCLA researchers could lead to better head and neck cancer therapies

UCLA scientists have discovered that a protein usually linked to rare neurological disorders is also associated with head and neck cancer in people who are infected with the human papilloma virus. And when that protein is combined with another cancer-suppressing protein, it helps improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments, according to a new study by UCLA researchers. Head and neck cancer is the sixth-most common form of cancer worldwide, and represents 5 percent of cancers diagnosed annually in the United States. Of the more than 42,000 people diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year, 12,000 will die from the disease. Human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and HPV diagnoses are at epidemic proportions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives. Led by Dr. Eri Srivatsan and Dr. Marilene Wang, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center members and co-authors of the study, researchers found the link between the protein gigaxonin and head and neck cancer while investigating the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. The drug is successfully able to kill cancer cells by interacting with the protein p16 which is commonly produced in HPV-positive cancers. “We studied the interaction of p16 in the nucleus of the cancer cell after treatment with cisplatin, and observed how the protein interacted with gigaxonin,” said Wang, professor-in-...
Source: UCLA Newsroom: Health Sciences - Category: Universities & Medical Training Source Type: news

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