A recent study by Torbjörn Ramqvist at Karolinska Institutet presents new potential strategies for treatment of certain types of tonsillar and base of tongue cancer. The expression of 155 proteins is analyzed in samples from both tumors and normal tissue using the SciLifeLab Clinical Biomarkers unit and National Bioinformatics Infrastructure Sweden (NBIS).
A major factor causing tonsillar and base of tongue cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV-positive versions of these two cancers have a much better clinical outcome than the corresponding HPV-negative ones, which is mainly initiated by smoking. In the current study, large dissimilarities in protein composition are found when matching the cancerous samples to the normal controls.
A noteworthy difference is also demonstrated between HPV-positive and HPV-negative tumors, with several proteins potentially related to their clinical outcome. For example, proteins related to angiogenesis, the process through which new blood vessels form to ensure supply of oxygen and nutrients to a tissue such as a tumor, are found to be clearly associated to clinical outcome in HPV-positive samples. Hence, angiogenesis-associated proteins might serve as potential targets for this type of tonsillar and base of tongue cancer.