Mouse model studies show that administered genetically or topically, protein Smad7 protects against or heals mouth sores commonly associated with cancer treatment.
In some cancer patients treated with radiation, the mouth sores known as oral mucositis become so severe that feeding tubes are required for nutrition and narcotics are needed for pain. In fact, 40-70 percent of patients treated with upper-body radiation develop the condition to some degree. Currently, there is no FDA approved treatment. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published this week in the journal Nature Medicine takes an important step toward changing that.
"We developed a genetically engineered mouse that produces a protein called Smad7 in the surface layers of its mouth. With this protein expressed, mouse models were dramatically more resistant to the development of oral mucositis than were controls," says Xiao-Jing Wang, PhD, CU Cancer Center investigator and John S. Gates endowed Chair of Cancer Stem Cell Biology at the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology.