A consortium led by Cancer Center Amsterdam researcher Dr. Jos Poell will receive € 1.25 million from Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) and Dutch Research Council (NWO) to develop an innovative screening assay to detect oral cancer earlier. In addition, they will investigate the possibility of using the assay for population-based screening.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is often detected at a late stage, to the detriment of patient survival and quality of life. To improve early diagnosis of OSCC, the consortium will develop an innovative screening assay that aims to detect cancer-related genetic changes in patients with oral cancer and premalignant oral lesions.

“We are investigating whether a novel assay, based on CyclomicsSeq, can detect genetic changes present in oral cavity cancer cells from noninvasive, self-collected oral rinse or brush samples,” says Dr. Jos Poell. “We will also apply the test to patients with a potentially malignant lesion who receive treatment to see if the assay can be used for disease monitoring.”

Possibilities and Obstacles

In parallel, the consortium will explore the feasibility of population-based screening for OSCC, including acceptability, conditions, health technology assessment, and requirements for informed decision-making. To achieve these goals, the consortium brings together medical specialists in OSCC and premalignant lesions, scientists in health behavior and medical informatics, the corporate partner Cyclomics, and molecular biologists specialized in OSCC genomics.

“A large part of the research is devoted to investigating the possibilities - and possible obstacles - for rolling out such a test more widely, for example in people who have a suspicious spot in the oral cavity, or even as a screening, for example in people over 60 years old,” says Dr. Jos Poell. “The accessibility of the test across all socio-economic levels plays an important role in this, so we pay specific attention to diversity and informed decision-making.”

For more information, contact Jos Poell

Project title: OralScreen: Early detection of oral cancer and precancer with a noninvasive genetic assay

Amount allocated: approximately €1.25 million (in-cash and in-kind contributions: €150,000)

Coordinator on behalf of the consortium: Dr. Jos Poell – Amsterdam UMC, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Dr. Linda Dusseljee-Peute – Amsterdam UMC, Medical Informatics
Dr. Mirjam Fransen – Amsterdam UMC, Public and Occupational Health
Prof. Dr. Ruud Brakenhoff – Amsterdam UMC, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Dr. Léon van Kempen – University Medical Center Groningen, Pathology
Dr. Wigard Kloosterman – Cyclomics, Utrecht