Research Summary

Molecular cytology of oral potentially malignant and malignant lesions

Oral cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in India and despite the ease of screening/detection, over 80% of the patients present with advanced disease. Development of a simple, point-of-care diagnostic can potentially help to down-stage disease at diagnosis. Cytology, with proven efficacy in cervical cancer screening, is a potential non-invasive, oral cancer screening method. However, oral cytology poses challenges in terms of lack of accuracy to detect premalignant lesions. This study proposes a molecular marker-based, liquid cytology technique to improve accuracy of the technique in detection of pre-malignant/malignant lesions. Molecular markers, selected from literature, will be initially validated in a well annotated patient cohorts (normal, benign, dysplastic, carcinoma) by immunohistochemical analysis. Subsequently, a subset of markers will be assessed for their efficacy in cytology using cell lines and patients. The study, thus, ultimately aims to develop a non-invasive screening tool that can enable early detection of oral cancer.

Figure Legend: Figure A. Rationale of the study. Figure B. Study design depicting the development of a non-invasive, molecular marker-based oral cytology technique for early detection of oral cancer