New partnership plans to elucidate on the genetic basis of oral cancer

Written by Hannah Coaker, Future Science Group

The University of Queensland has formed an alliance with Agilent Technology to accelerate the discovery of targeted preventative therapies for oral cancer.

Agilent Technologies, Inc. (CA, USA) is to collaborate with the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (Brisbane, Australia) in order to advance understanding of the genomic differences between young and older patients with oral cancer and between progressive and non-progressive oral potentially malignant lesions (OPMLs).

Oral cancer is ranked by the NIH as the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with over 275,000 new cases diagnosed per year, resulting in approximately 125,000 deaths annually.  In the past, oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) was largely associated with affecting older, high-risk men, but the past decade has witnessed an increase in the number of cases in younger, low-risk patients.

OPMLs, which are visible, morphologically altered precursors of many OSCCs, have been identified as important cancer prevention targets. The underlying reason for progression of OPML to OSCC is not currently fully understood, yet by implementing next-generation sequencing and data analysis, it is anticipated that scientists will be able to unravel the molecular genetic basis of these diseases, and potentially develop targeted preventative therapies.

According to a press release from Agilent Technologies, the collaboration plans to obtain DNA from OPMLs and OSCCs in both young and older patient populations, and conduct sequential biopsies from patients with OPML for at least 7 years from initial clinical diagnosis. Protein-coding regions for the DNA will then be selectively enriched using Agilent’s SureSelect target enrichment system followed by DNA sequencing on the 5500 SOLiD System. The data will then be analyzed at the Queensland Facility for Advanced Bioinformatics (Brisbane, Australia), which will compare DNA alterations at different stages of carcinogenesis.

“SureSelect has been successfully used by researchers to discover the genetic basis of a wide range of diseases,” said Russell McInnes, Agilent’s general manager for Genomics Solutions, South Asia Pacific and Korea. “Now, working with Professor Camile Farah at the University of Queensland, we will enable greater understanding of the genetic changes that characterize oral cancers.”

Source: Agilent Technologies to collaborate with University of Queensland on oral cancer research.