Oral cancer is an under-treated and poorly understood disease, says Xiaofeng "Charles" Zhou, assistant professor in the UIC Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases and lead researcher of the study.
More than 90 percent of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that normally start on the gums, floor of the mouth, or tongue. About 30,000 Americans are affected each year, Zhou said.
While new cancers of all types have risen 8 percent in the last five years, oral cancer increased 21 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Tongue squamous cell carcinoma, one of the most frequent oral cancers, rose more than 37 percent in this period. And although overall cancer deaths decreased during this period, those due to oral cancer increased by 4 percent -- and those due to tongue squamous cell carcinoma by 10 percent.
Improvements in patient survival require better understanding of tumor invasion and how cancer spreads, Zhou said, so that aggressive tumors can be detected early and targeted therapies can be developed.
While researchers have tried to identify altered genes that contribute to the aggressive nature of tongue squamous cell carcinoma, most previous studies have focused on protein-encoding genes, Zhou said.
The new study examines a noncoding gene called microRNA-138.
MicroRNAs are small, noncoding RNA molecules that control the expression of a target gene after the intermediary message for the gene has been transcribed into RNA, Zhou said. Several microRNAs are believed to stimulate the spread of various types of cancer. The new study, he said, demonstrated that a reduced level of microRNA-138 is associated with enhanced ability of tongue squamous cell carcinoma cells to spread.
"Our knowledge of genomic aberrations associated with noncoding genes and their contributions to cancer initiation and progression is relatively limited," he said.
The study is published in the August issue of the International Journal of Cancer. It was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Zhou was assisted by Lu Jiang, Xiqiang Liu, Jinsheng Yu, Anxun Wang, Fei Shi and Caroline Heidbreder of the UIC Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases, and Antonia Kolokythas of UIC's department of oral and maxillofacial surgery.
For more information about UIC, visit www.uic.edu.
Sam Hostettler | EurekAlert!
Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto
Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs
19.05.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
16.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2017 | Life Sciences
22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy