Since 2010, Friends of ANCHOR has funded 72 pilot research projects, each one taking place right here in Aberdeen. This year, Friends of ANCHOR have committed to funding seven more. These pioneering studies play a critical role in the future of cancer management, allowing scientists to build compelling cases for major funding. Projects like these can form the building blocks of future breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment. Seven new studies are underway this year at the University of Aberdeen, at a total cost of £97,917.
This team, which includes Dr Karolin Hijazi and Dr Rasha Abu Eid of the Institute of Dentistry will investigate a new method by which oral cancers could be detected earlier.
The team: Karolin Hijazi (Institute of Dentistry), Rasha Abu-Eid (Institute of Dentistry), Prof Anne Kiltie, Christopher McDonald, Rafa Moleron, Roy Soiza and Janet Kyle
The funding: £14,973
This project has also received additional funding by the British Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons.
The background: Oral cancer, including tongue, cheek, palate and lip, is a significant health problem in Scotland, where rates are almost double those seen in England. Despite some advances in treatment, the prognosis of this type of cancer remains poor, mainly because of late diagnosis. Whilst a wealth of knowledge is emerging in relation to the role of human bacteria, diet and the immune system in a range of cancers, there remains little knowledge of the importance of these factors in oral cancer.
The study: Three groups of patients attending NHS clinics will be asked to take part in the study: oral cancer patients, those with oral pre-cancer, and a comparator group of patients who have neither oral cancer or pre-cancer. The researchers will use cutting-edge technologies to compare patterns in the diets of the people within the study, as well as mouth and gut bacteria, inflammation factors and microscopic changes within their cells and tissues. By examining the results and the relationships between these factors, the group aims to provide initial knowledge that can then be taken to the next level.
The benefits: This early seed project, along with its subsequent large study, have the potential to define the role of oral and gut bacteria, in order to improve early diagnosis of oral cancer and pre-cancer. Given the focus on diet within this study, the project could also identify dietary factors that can be exploited for prevention of oral cancer and pre-cancer progression. These two outcomes would ultimately contribute to the development of technologies that will alleviate the suffering and the mortality rates of oral cancer patients in Scotland and beyond.
To find out more about Dr Karolin Hijazi and Dr Abu Eid's research interests, please follow the links below to their online profiles: