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NYU College of Dentistry and NYU Oral Cancer Center Investigators Share Collaborative NIH Clinical Trial Planning Grant Using Genomics to Tailor Treat

October 7, 2013

The New York University College of Dentistry today announced that Dr. Brian Schmidt, NYU Oral Cancer Director, and Dr. Donna Albertson, Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, have received a $150,000 collaborative research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further develop their work on biomarkers of oral cancer metastasis. Drs. Schmidt and Albertson are co-Principal Investigators on the project.

Dr. Schmidt explains, “When oral cancer metastasizes to the neck, a patient’s 5-year survival rate is reduced by 50 percent. Determining the risk for metastasis is critical for survival, but unfortunately, there are no current diagnostic techniques to accurately predict metastasis. As a result, surgeons often opt for a prophylactic neck dissection, a procedure that requires three to four hours of surgery, and, in many cases, is unnecessary.  Identifying a biomarker that can accurately predict metastasis might avoid unnecessary surgery, reduce patient morbidity, and reduce resource expenditure.”

Drs. Schmidt and Albertson previously utilized the genomic profiles of tumor samples isolated from patients to identify and validate such a genomic biomarker. This biomarker can be used to rule out neck dissection in oral cancer patients with no clinical evidence of neck metastasis. This grant will allow Drs. Schmidt and Albertson to continue to advance their work towards a clinical trial.

Other participating institutions include MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Maryland, Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, and the University of California, San Francisco. Patients will be recruited through the NYU Oral Cancer Center, University of Maryland, and Providence Cancer Center and the trial will be designed and managed by the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research.

According to Dr. Albertson, “The participation of all of these institutions is key to further validating this biomarker in a clinical trial, which will allow us to tailor treatment for individual oral cancer patients.”