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Understanding the mechanisms of perineural invasion in oral cancer

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Andrei Goga,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 30) Grant #: T30IP0970 Award: $499,510
Subject Area: Oral Disease and Dental Health
Award Type: High Impact Pilot Award

Initial Award Abstract
Head and neck cancers (HNC) represent a population of tumor types that remain extremely difficult to treat. A major challenge for successfully treating these patients is cancer tracking along nerves that innervate the tumors, resulting in both local-regional tumor recurrence and cancer invasion of peripheral organs. Wide surgical excision of tumor-associated nerves is anatomically challenging and can lead to high morbidity for patients. It is not known why nerves invade cancers, and how this interaction might regulate tumor growth and metastatic properties. Understanding the molecular basis of HNC-neuronal interaction will lead to new therapeutic approaches to target tumor recurrence and metastasis. To address this challenging problem, we have assembled a diverse team of a neuronal & epithelial biologist (Dr. Knox), cancer and molecular biologist (Dr. Goga), and head and neck surgeon and translational researcher (Dr. Ha).