Two grants benefit oral cancer research

January 10, 2013
Providence Cancer Center has received two grants to further research of oral cancer – a disease that is newly diagnosed in 40,000 Americans every year and that kills 8,000 annually.

The first is a $492,000 grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. In this project, Providence researchers will work with others nationally to help study biomarkers of oral cancer metastasis, with the hope of better predicting the disease.

If proven effective, the biomarker can be used to tailor therapy so the patients who will benefit from more aggressive treatment will receive it, and those who won’t will not undergo unnecessary surgery.

"This exciting project is potentially another step in personalizing oral cancer care," said R. Bryan Bell, M.D., D.D.S., Providence Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Program medical director and site principal investigator of the study.

Additionally, Providence Cancer Center has been awarded a $75,000 grant by the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation to help develop a therapeutic vaccine for oral cancer.

The median overall survival rate for recurrent or metastatic oral squamous cell carcinoma remains less than one year, and has not changed over the last decade.

This has renewed interest in novel therapies – such as the use of specialized tumor vaccines to boost the immune system’s response to fight cancer.

The grant is a result of an ongoing collaboration between Hong-Ming Hu, Ph.D., translational immunologist and Chief of the Laboratory of Cancer Immunobiology at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at the Providence Cancer Center, and Dr. Bell.