Oral Cancer and the Discovery of a Novel Biomarker

Sponsor: Investigator-initiated

Project Period: 

Current Status: Recruiting


The incidence of HPV infection and HPV-related head and neck cancer has increased during the past decade, with recent reports showing that high risk-HPV infection is a causal factor for a subset of head and neck cancer. Approximately 25% of all head and neck cancer is related to HPV infection and in the normal healthy population, around 6.9% of adults are infected with HPV. HPV can be detected in salivary fluids, oral rinses, and exfoliated cells of the oral cavity. 

CWRU SODM researchers are collaborating with clinicians in the Department of Otolaryngology at University Hospitals to conduct a pilot study to test the feasibility of using hBD-3 expression as a predictive biomarker for head and neck cancer. The study consists of biospecimen and subject medical data collection, including saliva, oral rinse collection, a blood draw, cytobrush samples, and lesion biopsy samples, or primary tumor, lymph node, and paraffin block biopsy samples. This is in addition to internal pilot studies for the development of easy to use, cost-effective, and non-invasive approaches for head and neck cancer screening. Preliminary studies showed differential expression of hBD-3 in oral primary epithelial cells in response to low versus high risk HPV types and that HIV+ patients are at a higher risk for HPV-associated oral lesions.

Project Team

Lechuang Chen, PhD - Research Associate

Kate Clancy - Research Student

Santosh Ghosh, PhD - Co-Investigator

Katrina Harrill, BSN, RN, OCN - Research Nurse

Ashlee Jeter - Research Assistant

Ge Jin, PhD - Co-Investigator

Bridget Patrick, MS, CCRC - Study Coordinator

Hong Yue, MD, PhD - Research Associate