Larynx Cells Yield Clues to Immune Function

Could lead to ways to fight cancer, asthma

THURSDAY, May 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Cells lining the larynx, or "voice box," have important immune abilities that may provide information on how to fight diseases such as asthma and cancer.

That's what a British researcher reported May 20 at an international conference being held at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Until recently, the biology of the larynx has been largely ignored, Dr. Martin Birchall, head of a British laryngeal research group, said in a prepared statement.

"It's like a buried city filled with people scurrying about doing all kinds of jobs. We need to find out what those jobs are. It's almost certain they have a role in stopping cancer. And we think these immune cells are crucial in the development of asthma. We are designing experiments to test these hypotheses," Birchall said.

He and his team are studying the immune response of the larynx by examining how the cells that line the larynx respond to different stimuli, including acid reflux.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has information about throat cancer.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, May 20, 2004
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