Mouse Model of Head and Neck Cancer Will Drive Research

It's a valuable new tool to help find treatments to fight these tumors

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MONDAY, May 15, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists say they've developed the first mouse model of human head and neck squamous cell cancers -- a feat that should greatly enhance research against these killer malignancies.

"This is the first animal model that mimics human head and neck cancer at both the pathological and the molecular levels with 100 percent incidence," researcher Dr. Xiao-Jing Wang, head of the division of molecular biology of head and neck cancer at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute in Portland, said in a prepared statement.

"This model will provide a valuable tool to screen for novel therapeutic and preventive approaches for this often deadly cancer," she said.

"Head and neck lesions developed from this mouse model have many molecular alternations similar to those found in head and neck squamous cell cancers (HNSCC) patients. Additionally, we have identified several new biomarkers that data suggest may be good targets for HNSCC therapy" Wang said.

The research appears in the May 15 issue of Genes & Development.

HNSCC is the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Fewer than 50 percent of patients survive beyond five years, a rate that hasn't changed in the past 20 years. HNSCC patients are often resistant to routine chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Survivors often suffer poor quality of life because the location of the cancer often destroys structures critical to speaking, breathing, and swallowing.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about head and neck cancer.

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University, news release, May 14, 2006

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