Research Mentor(s): John Brenner, Assistant Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Otolaryngology, Michigan Medicine
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 5 (3pm-3:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 7
Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer in the United States and has one of the highest recurrence rates. The cancer is frequently caught late, especially in recurring cases, as most diagnostic techniques are highly invasive. Research was conducted to develop a liquid biopsy technique which would use circulating tumor (ct)DNA, also known as cell-free DNA, to track cancer markers in the blood. This technique could be used as both a prognostic and diagnostic technique for patients with HNSCC or those who have a chance of recurrence. We have had success using cell-free DNA extraction procedures to separate the ctDNA from patient blood samples. Now we are looking towards developing a diagnostic technique using this data. This technique would be incredibly useful for monitoring HNSCC patients’ responses to treatment because it would be fast and non-invasive. Particularly, the research is currently focused on HPV positive patients because the HPV ctNDA marker can be easily identified in patient blood. The liquid biopsy technique could also be extended and used for the detection of other types of cancers. This could significantly improve cancer diagnosis times and would help provide frequent and non-invasive tracking of the responses of cancer patients to treatments.