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Academic Surgeon-Scientist Research Scholarship (ASSRS) - 2022

Microscopy photo of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma cells.

Drug repurposing for treatment of head and neck cancer: enhancing metformin anti-cancer activity
Doctor Lucy Huang

Project Description

Head and neck cancer (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer in the world with an urgent need to find more therapeutic options for its treatment. Finding alternative drugs and drug combinations to treat head and neck cancer is an exciting area of research. Drug repurposing is gaining importance for identifying new therapeutic uses for already-available (FDA-approved) drugs and will speed up the time to clinical translation.

Metformin, an example of a drug-repurposing candidate, is a commonly used drug for the treatment of type II diabetes which has recently been demonstrated to have anti-cancer properties. Metformin may offer potential benefit on overall risk and survival of HNSCC, with epidemiological evidence supporting further research.

Recent advances in technology including high throughput drug screening and next generation sequencing have identified new therapeutic targets for other cancers and the possibility of tailored precision oncology. The availability of drug libraries has allowed larger numbers of drugs to be tested in an unbiased scientific and efficient manner for potential repurposing as anti-cancer drugs. This allows for the testing of thousands of different drugs, evaluating combinations and anti-cancer effects in head and neck cancer cells.

This study will aim to assess if other FDA-approved drugs can be used in combination with Metformin to provide a synergistic effect on the viability of HNSCC.

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