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NIH Seeks 'Omics, Mouse Models for Salivary Gland Cancer

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has set aside $2 million this year to support the development of 'omics-based approaches and mouse models for studying salivary gland tumors.

Under two new requests for applications, NIDCR will fund three or four R01 research project grants, as well as another three or four exploratory/developmental research grants that will have budgets of up to $275,000 over two years.

The goal of these programs is to fund development of basic research discoveries and translational studies for salivary gland tumors, which are an "orphan and understudied group of tumors," according to NIDCR.

The institute wants researchers to use data-rich 'omics approaches to define the molecular signatures of these tumors, and to develop mouse models that can be used to study the onset and progression of tumor pathogenesis and in preclinical testing of potential therapeutics.

Salivary gland cancer is composed of several histopathologic subtypes that have varied clinical outcomes, and they account for one to six percent of head and neck malignancies, or around 3,600 new cases in the US each year. The typical management of early resectable salivary gland cancer involves surgical excision and post-operative radiation therapy, while nonresectable, recurrent, and metastatic cancer patients have limited therapeutic options. The roadblocks for new clinical diagnostics and therapeutics include the lack of characterization of salivary gland tumors at the molecular level, as well as research tools such as tissue specimens, cell lines, and mouse models, NIDCR said.

NIDCR believes that new high-throughput approaches are needed to define signatures of tumor initiation and progression at the level of the genome, epigenome, microRNA, and proteome. Such approaches will generate the knowledge necessary for understanding disease mechanisms and for identifying and validating prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers. Mouse models such as xenografts, transgenic models, and conditional knock-out models for studying the genetic etiology and environmental influences that trigger salivary gland tumor formation and progression also are needed.

In 2009, NIDCR established a centralized Salivary Gland Tumor Biorepository at MD Anderson Cancer Center that has collected and cataloged more than 600 malignant and non-malignant primary tissue specimens and biofluid samples. The institute also is encouraging researchers to plan to use this biorepository or other resources for obtaining biospecimens.

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