The Epigenetics of Head and Neck Cancer
Cancers of the Head and the Neck (HNC) are mainly associated to smoke and alcohol consumption but recently the infection of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is becoming an important risk factor. Despite the known differences existing between the HPV- and the HPV+ HNC subgroups, patients are, still treated with the same therapeutic protocols consisting mainly in surgery, radiation and platinum-based chemotherapy.
It is thus of utmost importance to extensively characterize the clinicopathological traits and the molecular mechanisms that distinguish the HNC subtypes: this will enable to discover novel clinical markers and, most importantly, to identify new targets for more tailored and effective therapies.
In HNC, some epigenetic-drugs are now object of experimental studies and are in clinical trials, alone or in combination with chemo-, radio- or immuno-therapies. The research activities of this proposal stem from our initial observation on the role exerted by high-risk HPV in modulating the global levels of chromatin modifiers.