A Biosensor Could Improve Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Diagnosis

In multiple disease states, early identification, diagnosis, and treatment can significantly improve overall survival rate and patient outcomes. This is especially true for lip and oral cavity cancer. According to Inside Precision Medicine, a co-research team from the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University and the University of Florida have worked to develop a biosensor that can aid in early cancer detection. 

Currently, the diagnostic process for lip and oral cavity cancer requires a biopsy. However, some argue that this process is not just invasive, but time-consuming. Researchers hope that this biosensor could provide faster results and prompt doctors to consider when biopsies are needed. 

In the research study, published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, the researchers describe the device, its development, and what test results have shown so far. This modular biological sensor utilizes rapid transistor-based technology to test for CIP2A. 

CIP2A is a biomarker that is highly expressed by dysplastic or malignant oral tissue, as well as oral squamous cell carcinoma. It has also been linked to other cancers such as lung and gastric cancers. When CIP2A binds to a tumor suppressor called PP2A, it can lead to the spread and proliferation of cancerous cells. 

To evaluate CIP2A levels, a small level of test fluid is placed at the tip of the sensor. Within this liquid are electrodes which contain antibodies to proteins expressed by lip or oral cavity cancer. The device then measures the concentration of CIP2A. Thus far, in vitro research has shown that the device is able to detect CIP2A even in low concentrations. The device is also able to determine the results very quickly, making it a more efficient process than the current standards. However, more in vivo research is needed to determine the biosensor’s efficacy in humans. 

What is Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer?

Lip and oral cavity cancer refers to any cancer which forms in the gums, front two-thirds of the tongue, behind the wisdom teeth, on the cheek linings or roof of the mouth, or on the bottom of the mouth. These cancers most often form in squamous cells, so a large majority of lip and oral cavity cancer is considered to be some form of squamous cell carcinoma. Risk factors include heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, excessive sun exposure on the lips, a weakened immune system, or human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Signs and symptoms of lip and oral cavity cancer may differ depending on the exact part of the mouth affected, but common symptoms can include:

  • Lumps on the lips or in the mouth
  • Sores in the mouth that may not heal 
  • Loose teeth
  • Sore throat
  • White or reddish patches in the mouth
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Bleeding, pain, or numbness
  • Thickened lips or gums
  • Jaw swelling

Treatment options for lip and oral cavity cancer include surgery and radiation. However, other therapeutic options, such as hyperthermia therapy, chemotherapy, and hyperfractionated radiation therapy, are being explored as potential treatments.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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