Tongue cancer is a debilitating disease with drastic and limited treatment options available. Over the past decade, tongue cancer has increased two to four-fold in young people under 45, independent of factors normally linked with this disease such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
With support like yours, our head and neck research team has been performing world-first research into this rare cancer, with the aim of understanding and addressing the worrying rise in cases.
Using a process called whole genome sequencing, the team is investigating mutations in both coding and non-coding DNA in 20 patients with tongue cancer. They are hoping to understand the impact these mutations have on the development of tongue cancer.
The researchers noted changes in cancerous samples and compared them to normal samples for each patient. They were surprised to discover that in 70% of the cancer samples, the patients had multiple copies of each chromosome, rather than the usual two. This is known as ‘whole genome duplication.’
These findings revealed some interesting patterns in the way cancer cells replicate, which could help doctors to understand how a person’s cancer is likely to progress and what the best course of treatment may be.
“Genetic understanding of tongue cancer to date has been limited, so this research is making a significant contribution.” says Dr Dario Strbenac, the research fellow on this project whose position is philanthropically funded.
Your support means our researchers can continue to make ground-breaking discoveries like this for patients now and in the future – so thank you.