Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer causes adverse secondary side effects in the normal salivary gland including xerostomia, oral mucositis, and increased oral infections. Clinically, radiation exposure of the salivary glands is kept below 2 Gy/day which can limit the dose administered to the tumor. Although improvements have been made in targeting radiation treatment to the tumor, the salivary glands are often in close proximity to the treatment site. The significant destruction of the oral cavity following radiation therapy results in diminished quality of life and in some cases interruptions in cancer treatment schedules.
Dr. Limesand's research program has its foundation in radiation-induced salivary gland dysfunction; mechanisms of damage, clinical prevention measures, and restoration therapies. They utilize a number of techniques including: genetically engineered mouse models, real-time RT/PCR, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, primary cultures, siRNA transfections, and procedures to quantitate salivary gland physiology and integrate this information in order to understand the complete system. The Cancer Center Support Grant allows them access to core facilities (Experimental Radiation, Flow Cytometry and Histology) as well as collaborators that strengthen the interdisciplinary work they are pursuing.