Research group: Molecular pathology of head and neck tumors
University of Turku, Institute of Dentistry; Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Head of Group
Kristiina Heikinheimo, Associate Professor, University of Turku
Research group/Finnish collaborators
Kari Kurppa, PhD, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku
Klaus Elenius, Professor, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku
Jani J Saarela, PhD, Institute of Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki
Ilmo Leivo, Professor, University of Turku
Kowan Ja Jee, PhD, Medical Genetics, University of Turku
Prime non-Finnish collaborators
Peter R. Morgan, Professor, King's College, London, UK
Edward W. Odell, Professor, King's College, London, UK
Judith Pape, PhD, University College London, London, UK
Ralf J. Radlanski, Professor, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Santiago Peralta, Associate Professor, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
During the past two decades the main research focus of the group has been to study roles played by growth factors and their receptors in odontogenic tumors and in cancers of salivary gland and of oral squamous cell origin. The working hypothesis is that some of the same molecules that regulate normal development are aberrated in these tumors. Therefore analyses of their putative tissues of origin e.g developing tooth, salivary gland and oral epithelia have been included. This comparative approach has contributed new results also to craniofacial developmental biology.
The group has a strong background in modern methods of molecular biology including in situ hybridization, Northern analysis and QRT-PCR. Recently genome-wide genomics including cDNA array, array-comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays and Next Generation and RNA Sequencing (NGS and RNA-Seq) have been utilized in search for aberrated genes and signaling pathways in the these tumors.
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The major aim of the group is to identify molecular-level changes in tumors of the head and neck to develop better diagnostic and prognostic tools to advance treatment modalities. Our group has produced several original findings on the molecular phenotype of head and neck tumors and will continue in the priority areas listed below.
Group's research strategy 2019–2022
The group will be engaged in the following projects in 2019–2022.
- Emerging biomarkers and targeted treatments in odontogenic tumors.
- Mutation landscape of salivary gland tumors and novel targets for treatment.
These projects have gained approval by the ethical Committee of the Hospital District of Southwest Finland (1/11.3.2007).
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