Oral Cancer Incidence in Taiwan

Sponsor: Investigator-initiated

Project Period: 

Current Status: Recruiting


Betel nut chewing has contributed to Taiwan having one of the highest incidences and mortality rates from squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). At present, there are no clinically available diagnostic biomarkers for OSCC. Therefore, there is a clear clinical need for the development of a cost-effective, reliable, and non-invasive test for a biomarker that can help with its early diagnosis. We have discovered that a protein, human beta defensin-3 (hBD-3), shows differential expression in oral primary epithelial cells in OSCC development. 

CWRU SODM researchers are collaborating with clinicians at Taipei Medical University 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

Wei Jen Chang, DDS, MS, PhD - Principal Investigator (Taiwan)

Santosh Ghosh, PhD - Co-Investigator

Ge Jin, PhD - Co-Investigator

Bridget Patrick, MS, CCRC - Regulatory Coordinator

Aaron Weinberg, DMD, PhD - Principal Investigator (CWRU)

Ching-Yu Yen - Co-Investigator

Chad Zender, MD - Co-Investigator